International Women’s Day March 8th


How we can all become our own brand managers

Talking about unleashing your untapped potential on International Women’s Day  


Friday, March 8th marked International Women’s Day, an important day that we take very seriously here at Unilever. Our European president Hanneke Faber treated the employees at our European hub in Rotterdam, the Weena, to a morning filled with coffee, croissants, and inspiration. We explored the strides Unilever has already taken to close the gap between men and women, while also acknowledging the work that still needs to be done to become fully inclusive and diverse.

As of 2018, 48 percent of​ manager jobs (WL2+) were filled by women in the company, a promise of full equalization on the horizon. Unilever believes a more diverse and inclusive workforce can boost financial performance, reputation, innovation and staff motivation, and one quick glance around the event in the Lipton Bar confirmed this. Employees from many different backgrounds, genders, ages and cultures working together to grow the company and create positive change, doing it with pride and a big smile.

Our Global VP Dish Hajar Alafifi​ told​ us a personal story about gender-based discrimination and it’s safe to say she struck an emotional chord in all of us. What made her story so touching was her acknowledgement of how these hardships have turned her into the strong woman she is today. It made her understand that what makes a person great is not defined by gender, background, or appearance. Rather, it is the impact a person makes and her legacy that matters. When we break the stereotypes, or #Unstereotype as we like to say, we open up an ocean of new potential, ideas, and innovation.

Hajar continued, telling us about the journey she made to be able to embrace her own identity, regardless of her gender and background. Her insight from this process is that when we learn to embrace our identity, we become our own personal brand ambassadors. When we wear this identity on our sleeve, together with the vulnerability that comes with it, transformative power arises. Another look around the room showed an incredibly diverse group of individuals ready to make their mark on the company and the world in their own way. Real change and value are created by Unilever’s unique employees that strive for lasting​ positive change. Hajar told us that when she became Global VP Dish she was initially rather unexcited. However, when she understood Sunlight’s purpose, to unleash the untapped potential of women around the world, it was clear that this position was a perfect fit to her identity.

We could have filled a full day with discussions on female empowerment and celebrating #GameChangersforGenderEquality, but there was work to be done to continue to #Unstereotype the Workplace. Creating an inclusive culture without stereotypes, bias, and outdated social norms is the name of the game, and that Friday inspired us all to awaken the power we need to make this happen.

This breakfast was organized by Unilever Diversity &Inclusion champions and members of LEAD Network at Unilever. LEAD Network mission is to atract, retain, and advance women in the FMCG industry. Do you want to know more about this network? Please contact fatma.tek@unilever.com.