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2019 Governance & Sustainability

Discover how Sustainability is governed at Colgate-Palmolive and how

our strategy is rooted in good corporate governance and integrity.


  • Colgate’s Governance Principles

    Colgate’s Board believes that good corporate governance accompanies and greatly aids Colgate’s long-term business success. Colgate’s key strategic business priorities are growing sales through engaging with consumers, developing world-class innovation and working with retail partners; driving efficiency on every line of the income statement to increase margins; generating strong cash flow performance and utilizing that cash effectively to enhance total shareholder return; and leading to win by staying true to the Company’s culture, developing Colgate people and focusing on all of its stakeholders. Colgate’s Board has been at the center of these key strategies, helping to design and implement them, and seeing that they guide the Company’s operations. 

    The Board believes that the Company has consistently been at the forefront of good corporate governance. Reflecting its commitment to continuous improvement, the Board reviews its governance practices on an ongoing basis to ensure that they promote shareholder value.

    To learn more, visit the Governance section on Colgate’s website.


    Director Independence Standards

    Independent Board Candidate Qualifications

    Board Guidelines on Significant Corporate Governance Issues


    Board Independence, Expertise and Accountability

    Robust Director Stock Ownership Guidelines 

    Established Policies Guide Governance and Business Integrity 

    Board Focused on Key Business Priorities

    Diverse Board of Directors

    Direct Access to Management

    Enduring Management Accountability

    Board Practices Promote Effective Oversight

    Continuous Improvement through Evaluation and Education

  • Sustainability Governance

    Sustainability Steering Committee composed of Colgate’s Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff; President, North America & Global Sustainability;Chief Sustainability Officer; Chief Technology Officer; Chief Human Resources Officer; Vice President, Global Compensation and Benefits; Chief Marketing Officer; Chief Communications Officer; Chief Legal Officer and Secretary; and Chief Supply Chain Officer makes strategic decisions related to sustainability and guides the organization to meet sustainability goals. Colgate’s Chief Sustainability Officer  has direct responsibility for implementing sustainability and EHS programs. For our annual corporate social responsibility report, the Global Sustainability team gathers the content cross-functionally and the Sustainability Steering Committee reviews the final report content.

    Additionally, networks of senior leaders in each division and local champions support on-the-ground sustainability efforts, communications, and reporting. Global functions, such as Human Resources, Packaging, Procurement and Technology, coordinate certain aspects of the program where global consistency is appropriate. Moreover, to integrate sustainability tracking and disclosures into our business strategy, operations and employee review process, Colgate’s global sustainability initiatives have been added to team goals and individual objectives used to determine the compensation for many of Colgate’s senior managers. 

    Colgate’s Board of Directors is kept informed of the Company’s progress via regular updates and considers sustainability matters, risks, and opportunities in decision-making. Sustainability is considered a critical risk as part of our Enterprise Risk Management process. Additionally, Colgate’s Chief Financial Officer provides the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors with an update on the Company’s Enterprise Risk Management Program. The Personnel and Organization Committee of the Board reviews the Company’s sustainability and social responsibility programs and other public interest matters, including cultural diversity, equal opportunity, charitable giving, and international human rights.

    Please visit Colgate’s Policy Statements for a complete listing.

  • Business Integrity

    Colgate is committed to doing business with integrity and respect for all people and for the world around us. With governance and ethics principles embedded into Company culture as well as standards supporting the well-being of all Colgate people, Colgate ensures its business success goes hand-in-hand with business integrity.



    Since 1987, our Code of Conduct has served as a guide for our daily business interactions, reflecting our corporate values and our standard for ethical behavior. Our Code of Conduct is available in 41 different languages. One hundred percent of salaried and clerical Colgate people participate in annual training and certification on the Code of Conduct. Factory workers certify annually and complete training every other year. Our audit firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, audits a cross-section of these certifications. Colgate’s Global Business Practices Guidelines provide further information to our employees on key topics in our Code of Conduct. The Guidelines offer clear, practical guidance and illustrate how the values and principles outlined in the Code of Conduct apply to particular business situations. 

    Refer to our Business Practices Guidelines for a full list of topics addressed.

    The Colgate EthicsLine provides a means for employees and external parties to ask questions, obtain guidance or report any suspected violations of the Code of Conduct. We work to create a workplace free of inappropriate or unlawful behavior in which people are encouraged to share their concerns with the Company without fear of retaliation. Consequently, at Colgate no adverse action will be taken against any employee, former employee, agent, or third party for complaining about, reporting, participating in or assisting in the investigation of a suspected violation of the Company’s Code of Conduct, Company policy or applicable law unless the allegation made or information provided is found to be intentionally false or was not made in good faith. 

    All reporting activity provided when Colgate People “Speak Up” is reviewed and, if deemed to be a potential violation of the Code of Conduct, the matter is promptly and thoroughly investigated by Global Ethics & Compliance and/or the Global Legal Organization. 

    In 2019, Ethics and Compliance received 422 contacts through a variety of channels including the EthicsLine, Ethics web tool and ethics@colpal.com, which covered a wide variety of reporting activities including 57 consultations. Allegations reported to Ethics and Compliance, are grouped into the following categories: Accounting related, Conflict of Interest, Discrimination; Financial-related; Harassment; Regulatory and Legal Retaliation; Work Environment; Miscellaneous Issues (“Other”); and non-Ethics and Compliance matters. After a thorough investigation has been completed, if the allegations are substantiated, appropriate remedial action is taken.



    Our Business Practices Guidelines illustrate how the values and principles outlined in the Colgate-Palmolive Code of Conduct apply to particular business situations. Our guidelines detail not only Colgate-Palmolive policies but also our Company’s compliance with specific laws, regulations and practices.

    Some topics addressed by our Business Practices Guidelines include:

    No Political Contributions

    Colgate has a long-standing policy against making contributions to political parties or candidates, which is set forth in our Code of Conduct and Global Business Practices Guidelines. These policies prohibit Company contributions to any political party or candidate whether federal, state, or local. We also prohibit U.S. trade associations from using any portion of Colgate dues for political contributions, and we conduct an annual reminder and certification process to ensure trade association awareness and compliance.


    Communicating an ethical message is a critical part of Colgate’s Maintaining the Highest Ethical Standards program. It is imperative that all employees are fully aware of the ethical policies. Colgate’s branded message, “Learn, Act, Speak Up” is communicated continually including on the Ethics and Compliance website, app, posters, wallet cards, and local engagement presentations worldwide. Repeating the message utilizing various formats is important to gain employee awareness and comprehension.


    Colgate has a strict policy prohibiting bribery of governmental officials and private commercial parties anywhere we do business. This policy is outlined in the Code of Conduct and Global Business Practices Guidelines. Colgate also mandates that the third parties with whom we work comply with our anti-bribery policy, which is included in our Third Party Code of Conduct and further communicated to third parties through our global due diligence process. This process utilizes a third-party tool to review and evaluate all priority third parties that interact with governmental officials. It also requires the third-party to train employees on this topic.

    Privacy and Data Protection

    Colgate respects the privacy of its employees, consumers, customers, suppliers, and other third parties with whom we have a business relationship, and therefore, we handle personal data responsibly and in accordance with all applicable data privacy and data protection laws. Read more on our Privacy Policy.


    Colgate’s compliance training uses a mixture of classroom and online training and covers numerous priority ethical topics. including anti-bribery, competition law, privacy and trade compliance as well as the Code of Conduct certification referenced above. The Code training includes up to six topic areas every year, and the scenarios are updated on an annual basis. Many of these courses have run continuously for more than eight years. Every year, 100 percent of salaried and clerical employees complete the Code of Conduct training and every other year all employees complete the course. Training is mandatory and is linked to compensation for certain employee populations.

    For more information on all of the above, visit Colgate’s Ethics & Compliance Guidelines.

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