Unilever comms and sustainability pioneer Sue Garrard enters PRWeek UK Hall of Fame

The 2019 inductee to the PRWeek UK Hall of Fame is Sue Garrard, long-time comms lead at Unilever and one of the world's leading practitioners in developing sustainability strategies.

Sue Garrard, with Danny Rogers (left) and Alan Jope
Sue Garrard, with Danny Rogers (left) and Alan Jope

Garrard, who now runs her own consultancy, was inducted by Alan Jope, chief executive of Unilever, on Tuesday evening at the PRWeek Awards. The annual event at JW Marriott Grosvenor House in London was attended by nearly 1,000 industry leaders from client organisations and consultancies.

Take me back to the PRWeek 2019 winners page

Garrard worked at Unilever from 2011 to 2018, heading the consumer goods giant's sustainability agenda as well as its comms function. She was part of the executive team and led work to embed the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan to support growth, build brands with purpose, improve employee engagement and future-proof the business.

By the end of 2017, more than 25 of Unilever’s brands were purpose-led, growing 50 per cent faster than P&G’s other brands and representing 70 per cent of the company’s growth.

"Communications has provided me with a wonderful career," said Garrard. And now PRWeek has topped it by proving that you can do well by doing good. This award is for all my teams who have done remarkable work with me at Unilever. A huge thanks to them and PRWeek!"

"Companies need help to understand how sustainability can strengthen their long-term business success. And their sustainability strategy needs to be set out so all its stakeholders understand how it will make the organisation future-fit, and how that will be achieved. Communication lies at the heart of all this." 

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Garrard joined the FMCG behemoth in 2011 after moving between the private and public sectors.

Educated at Malvern St James girls’ college in Worcestershire, Garrard started off in the civil service before joining advertising agencies Young & Rubicam, Abbott Mead Vickers and PR agency Fishburn Hedges.

Later she became director general for marketing, comms and customer strategy at the Department for Work and Pensions.

Garrard's first task at Unilever was to create a single global comms function aligned with the company objectives.

"The priority was to think how to best support the business and what the needs were across all markets," she said.

"A second layer of change was to take a campaigning mentality and drive big spikes of activity internally across the organisation at the same time as externally. We campaign strongly on issues such as deforestation and universal access to hygiene and sanitation."

PRWeek editor-in-chief Danny Rogers said: "Sue Garrard is probably the UK comms professional to have had the most influence on the debate around corporate purpose and sustainability. And Sue was driving this agenda long before the recent obsession with purpose-driven campaigns. She has built huge respect, admiration and many friendships within the blue chip business world, as well as in the consultancy sector."

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