“Embracing diversity in all its forms is business critical for Unilever. The good news: we are on track to reach gender parity among managers by 2020. Since 2010, our percentage of female managers has increased from 38% to 49% in 2018. Is it enough? No. Of our very top managers, only 27% are female. So, we still have a lot to do. Our partnership with the LEAD Network will help us to advance and retain female talent, by learning from best practices in our industry and by having access to a great pool of role models and mentors. Therefore, I’m thrilled for Unilever to become a LEAD Gold Partner, and I look forward to taking action together.”
1.Can you tell us a bit about your organisation and your role?
I run the Unilever business in Europe. We serve consumers with great brands like Dove, Knorr, Magnum, Lipton, Persil, Cif, Domestos, Ben & Jerry’s, Ola (Wall’s), Axe (Lynx) and Rexona (Sure). You’ll find at least one Unilever product in almost every European home! I’m passionate about Unilever’s purpose of ‘Making sustainable living common place’; about leveraging technology to enable our people and to serve our consumers better; and about diversity. As the first female leader to head up Unilever’s European business and a mother of three, gender diversity and inclusiveness in the workplace are near and dear to my heart.
2.Why is diversity, and specifically the advancement of women, so important to your organisation?
I like to win! Diversity in all its forms, whether it’s gender, ethnicity or industry background, leads to more diversity of thought, which in turn leads to better decisions, stronger innovation and better business outcomes. If we look at gender diversity specifically, it’s important to note that the majority of our consumers are female. That should be reflected in our workforce and management as well.
3. What diversity initiatives do you have in your organisation?
At Unilever, we have set a clear, public target for gender diversity, and we measure progress against it. Our target, set back in 2011, is to get to 50% female managers by 2020. We’re well underway to get there. If you ‘measure what you treasure’, you drive concrete action and can hold people accountable.
To help deliver our targets, we facilitate flexible working arrangements, which is important for young parents and helps us retain talent at key points in their careers. Last year, we pioneered by providing paternity leave across our global organization.
We also believe inclusiveness is critical. To that end, we launched a campaign called #Unstereotype last year. With this campaign, we aim to remove unconscious bias in the workplace and break through stereotypes in advertising. As one of the biggest advertisers in the world, we have an important role to play here.
Finally, we believe in celebrating diversity! We celebrate International Women’s Day with events around the world, and we are involved in Pride in many cities. Most recently, we launched a campaign and programme to celebrate and include more people with “diffabilities” (different abilities) in our organisation.
4. What role does the LEAD Network play in helping your organisation to reach its diversity goals?
The world is moving too fast to accomplish everything we want to alone. LEAD is a great partner that helps Unilever learn from other organisations and share best D&I practices. The LEAD Network also offers opportunities for our top talents to connect with great peers, mentors and role models from beyond our company, but in our industry. One of the key things that has helped me in my career is having great role models. I’ve had fantastic female managers who showed me that you can take on big jobs and have a family. The LEAD Network offers plenty of these role models, too.