Unilever: Changing the Game, Unlocking the Future (Case Study)Jan 16, 2020
2020 Catalyst Award Winner
Fair, inclusive, safe, and purpose-led—these are the words Unilever employees used to describe the company’s culture during our 2020 Catalyst Award evaluation of Unilever’s Changing the Game, Unlocking the Future global initiative. Along with these words, we heard numerous stories of how the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion creates passion and empowers people to thrive in their careers.
Changing the Game, Unlocking the Future is a core element of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, a blueprint for growing the business and creating positive social impact. The initiative extends and enhances Unilever’s 2013 Catalyst Award-winning initiative by setting a goal to achieve gender balance across management levels by 2020 through developing a more thoughtful and sustainably inclusive culture. Senior leaders analyzed workforce metrics across the company, uncovering the specific functions and regions with the most room for growth. Five functions and regions were identified as “Hot Spots”—Supply Chain; Enterprise Technology Solutions; Finance; North Africa and the Middle East; and Africa—where Unilever could strategically target its efforts to increase women’s representation across the pipeline.
Highlights of the initiative include:
- Tools and processes to drive gender equity in recruitment and advancement, including gender-balanced interview slate requirements, robust D&I goals, KPIs, and the Gender Appointment Ratio, a measurement to track senior leaders’ records in appointing women.
- Work-life and flexibility offerings customized according to the function and job to support employees across the globe, notably at Unilever’s tea plantations and factories.
- Mentoring, sponsorship, and coaching programs for women that are offered both formally and informally.
- Safety measures and need-based accommodations to ensure comfortable and inclusive working conditions, especially in Hot Spot regions.
From 2016 to 2019, women’s representation increased across levels, regions, and functions. Notably, the representation of women in executive leadership increased from 15% to 33%. Additionally, the share of Supply Chain VPs who are women increased from 17% to 30%. Women now hold 49% of management-level positions in Africa and 49% of management-level positions and above globally.
Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Beauty & Personal Care, Home Care, and Foods & Refreshment products with sales in over 190 countries and reaching 2.5 billion consumers a day. It has 155,000 employees and generated sales of €51 billion in 2018. Over half (60%) of the company’s footprint is in developing and emerging markets. Unilever has around 400 brands found in homes all over the world, including Dove, Knorr, Dirt Is Good, Rexona, Hellmann’s, Lipton, Wall’s, Lux, Magnum, Axe, Sunsilk and Surf. Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) underpins the company’s strategy and commits to helping more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being by 2020; halving the environmental impact of our products by 2030; and enhancing the livelihoods of millions of people by 2020.