Unilever is one of the world’s leading consumer goods companies with products sold in over 190 countries. A few U.S. brands include Lipton, Knorr, Hellmann’s, Dove and Suave. More than 2 billion consumers worldwide use a Unilever product on any given day. In just three years, Unilever has seen the doubling of gender representation at senior levels. How did they do it? Their holistic approach includes:
- Accountability – clear targets and global scorecards for all regions
- Mentoring – global and local schemes for our key people
- Agile working – implementing flexible working programs
- Inclusion awareness training – ensuring that the spirit of inclusion is clearly understood and practiced by the entire organization
- Networks ̶ providing personal and professional opportunities for growth for diverse talent
Unilever broadcasts their commitment to gender balanced leadership loudly.This is from their website:
The benefits of having a gender balanced organization are plain to see. It helps power creativity and innovation, deepens the talent pool and allows us to better serve our diverse consumer base. Our initiative, Global Reach with Local Roots: Creating a Gender-Balanced Workforce in Different Cultural Contexts, accelerates the advancement of high-potential women across different regions and leverages the company’s strong foundation of cultural diversity and multinational expertise to promote a culture of inclusion.
Gender balance is included in the business goals for our senior leaders. There has been a considerable increase in awareness and understanding of the business case through training and communication. The capability of Unilever to embed gender balance more strongly into the organization has increased as a result of the strengthening of inclusion and diversity into our talent process, global mentoring and agile working initiatives.
Leadership Courage And Innovation
Unilever is not afraid to admit there is lots of work to do. They seek out ways to accelerate change, for example asking employees about their views on gender balance. They describe this on their website:
Reaching For 50%
Sharon McLeod, Vice President of Personal Care North America, vigorously promotes diversity and inclusion. She wrote about Unliver’s bold goal of 50% by 2015 in a Catalyst “say no to status quo” blog:
At Unilever, our goal is to fill 50% of leadership roles with women by 2015. Insisting on advancement through merit is critical to our success. I believe in women’s ability to take on a greater share of leadership roles, not because of their gender but because of their talent, insight, and expertise.