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Diversity and Inclusion

Becoming a truly diverse and inclusive company is not only the right thing to do, it is crucial to helping us grow our business, attract and retain talent, and engage the people who buy our products.

Diversity and inclusion

Leena Nair, Chief Human Resources Officer

Leena Nair


“Diversity and inclusion at Unilever is about embracing differences, creating possibilities and progressing together to build a sustainable business. My vision for Unilever is to create an inclusive environment that allows all of our people to thrive and perform at their very best, irrespective of their gender or background.”

As a responsible business we are driving equality of opportunity and inclusion, not only within our organisation, but across society. Starting with progressive policies and practices in our workplace, we are building on this foundation by collaborating with other businesses and organisations to create opportunities for women across our extended supply chain, in our sales and customer development operations, and via products and brands for our 2.5 billion consumers worldwide - 70% of whom are women.

Within our business, our diversity and inclusion strategy is driven at the very highest level through our Global Diversity Board, which is chaired by our CEO, Paul Polman, and championed by Aline Santos, Unilever’s SVP Marketing and Global Head of Diversity. The board provides the overarching vision, governance and target setting for diversity and inclusion across the global business.

Diversity and Inclusion in the UK and Ireland

Building a diverse, inclusive and performance-based culture is at the core of our action plan for our UK and Ireland business.

We are making strong progress across our business, where women account for 50.7%* of all management positions in the UK and Ireland, this is up from 41.8% in 2010. We are very proud that our progress has been externally recognised. As in previous years, in 2017 we featured in the Times Top 50 Employers for Women list, as well as winning the Business in the Community Responsible Business Award for Gender Equality. We have received gold accreditation for Mumsnet Family Friendly, as well as being awarded Employer of the Year in the Mumsnet Family Friendly awards.

*Data from April 2017

Diversity and inclusion

To further encourage an inclusive working environment, we recognise a number of UN international days to raise awareness and show support for ethnic minorities, individuals with disabilities, the LGBT+ community and women. We are proud to have joined the London Pride Parade in the last few years.

Gender Pay Gap Report 2017

In 2017, we published our Gender Pay Gap report for Unilever in the UK in line with government legislation, which requires all companies with 250 employees or more to publish a range of gender pay statistics. As well as outlining our results for the total UK workforce, it sets out our diversity and inclusion plans for the future.

Building an inclusive workplace

Our policies & flexible working

At Unilever, we have a range of market-leading, family-friendly and flexible working policies, which enable our employees to balance their day-to-day responsibilities.

These policies and practices include:

  • Agile working, which gives employees the possibility to work remotely and flex their own hours, whilst ensuring business needs are met.
  • Flexible working arrangements including, but not limited to, part-time and job share opportunities.
  • Enhanced leave policies - all employees taking maternity or shared parental leave have up to 16 weeks’ paid leave and some eligible employees can have up to 39 weeks’ paid leave. In addition, our Maternity & Paternity Services portal provides online resources to support employees at all stages of parenthood, as well as tailored guidance for line managers.
  • Practical support including, nursery benefits and back-up care for parents and carers.
  • A constant focus on wellbeing for employees, including regular health checks, mental health support and our Employee Assistance Programme.

Mentoring & training

We have a strong culture of mentoring, training and learning across the organisation, with a range of resources and initiatives available:

  • Mentoring and coaching
  • Leadership and general business skills training, including unconscious bias
  • Learning for all, via access to internal and external resources
  • Workshops which support personal and team development.

Our stories

Clare Dolan and Rosie O’Malley, Water Innovation Directors, have been successfully job sharing for the past five years.

Rosie O’Malley

Rosie O'Malley


“I started job-sharing after having my third child. Despite my initial reservations, it was definitely the right move as I’ve been able to spend more time with my family and advance my career. Having the opportunity to job share is fantastic and working with Clare means we can bounce ideas of each other and find solutions to problems together.”

Clare Dolan

Clare Dolan


“My decision to job share was driven by wanting to spend more time with my three children and because it offered an opportunity to continue developing and learning in a full-time role. The role did initially require some adjusting to, but once we established an approach which worked for us we made sure to stick to it. It’s been hugely rewarding working with Rosie and we’ve now worked seamlessly as a team for over five years! This has also been helped by an incredibly supportive line manager and our open culture which promotes agile working.”

David Tregido, Human Resources Director, decided to take just over one month off work to focus on his family and support the birth of his son.

David Tregidgo

David with his family


“Being able to make time for the things that matter most, such as family, is important. When my wife and I were expecting our second child I decided that, in addition to my paternity leave, I would take two periods of parental leave, including a week before the birth of our son and a month later in the year.

This gave me the opportunity to support my wife, take care of my daughter and spend quality time together as a whole family. Being able to focus solely on my family during this time was the right choice, and I’m thankful for being able to make the most of this benefit at Unilever.”

Our global commitment

As well as being vital to the success of our business, we know that advancing diversity within Unilever plays a part in our wider ambitions to challenge outdated gender norms and stereotypes throughout our value chain.

Through our household brands we are helping to break down unhelpful gender stereotypes. In June 2016, we launched a ground-breaking campaign to challenge gender stereotyping in advertising called #Unstereotype, and we are working with our marketing and creative agencies to create more progressive and positive portrayals of women in our advertising and communications. Brands including Dove and Lynx are leading our global campaign.

More broadly, and as part of our Sustainable Living Plan, we are committed to empowering five million women by 2020 across our global business, value chain and the communities in which we operate. With support from our partners we are making progress on this target – by 2016 we had enabled around 920,000 women to access initiatives aiming to promote their safety, develop their skills and expand their opportunities.

To find out more on what we’re doing to address diversity as a global business please click here.

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