How Unilever is Building a Diverse & Inclusive Culture

by Savoy Staff

(l to r) Esi Eggleston Bracey, EVP Beauty & Personal Care, Unilever North America (NA) and Terry Thomas, EVP & Chief Customer Officer, Unilever US

Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Beauty & Personal Care, Home Care, and Foods & Refreshment products with sales in more than 190 countries, reaching 2.5 billion consumers a day.

At Unilever, we believe that sustainable and equitable growth is the only way to create long-term value, making diversity and inclusion a top priority. We are committed to ensuring the diversity of our workforce fully reflects the communities we serve and operate in by integrating diversity and inclusion into our business strategies, talent acquisition, talent development, and retention practices and processes.

This broad strategy includes, but is not limited to, the following key areas:

Achieving parity and racial equity. In 2017 we committed to achieving gender parity and accomplished this goal, in 2018, resulting in 50% of managerial roles across Unilever’s global business represented by women. As we continue to reaffirm our commitment to diversity and inclusion, we have set a higher bar – a commitment to achieving racial equity. To help us do so, we have allocated both talent and financial resources to ensure fair and equitable HR practices, processes, and programs are in place.

Offering cultural immersion.  This year, we hosted cultural immersion sessions that took an in-depth look into the complexities, lived experiences, and worldviews of underrepresented communities.  As we continue to strive for an inclusive workplace, we will continue to develop the cultural competence of our workforce.

Building a network of D&I champions. With regional and market-level targets with regular progress checks by the Unilever Leadership Executive team a Global Diversity Board.

There is much more to be done, and we remain committed to building an inclusive culture and a more diverse workforce where every person can bring their authentic self to work.

Our Responsibility for Racial Justice

As a company committed to acting and using our influence to fight systemic racism and social injustice, we are initiating change from within and outside the Unilever ecosystem.

This year, we took the necessary steps in continuing to ensure we are building an inclusive workplace. On Juneteenth, we had open, honest conversations that encouraged employees to learn more about the struggles and triumphs of the Black community. In addition, we hosted a Healing Circle for our Black employees aimed to create a safe space for participants to share openly.  We also held over 35 company-wide unconscious bias and cultural competency training sessions to learn from the experiences of members of the Black LatinX, LGBTQIA+, and Muslim communities.  In 2021, we will honor and observe Juneteenth as a company holiday to provide our employees time to reflect and appreciate the African American experience.

To use our influence to help tackle the root causes of social injustice outside of Unilever, we started with five focus areas:

  • $8 million dollars and counting pledged to organizations and activists working towards social justice and racial equality. This includes commitments from Unilever and many of our brands.
  • Increasing our spend with diverse suppliers.
n Ensuring the diversity of our workforce reflects the communities we serve.
  • Upholding a zero-tolerance policy on intolerance – both among Unilever employees and the suppliers, customers, and partners that work with us.
  • Adding our voice and influence to advocate for safe and fair access to voting in the 2020 election.

Many of our brands have a rich history of championing and supporting Black communities. For years, Ben & Jerry’s has been at the forefront of fighting for social justice, specifically criminal justice reform and voting access for the Black community. Dove has supported anti-racism efforts through its work co-founding the CROWN Coalition (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) and legislation it has helped pass in several states to protect against hair discrimination (visit to sign the petition). Dove Men+Care is partnering with the National Basketball Players Association – the NBPA – to ensure that Black Men are celebrated, respected, supported, and protected with the Commit to C.A.R.E. Now initiative (to sign the petition visit SheaMoisture was founded with a mission of contributing to and supporting the Black community, which includes a strong commitment to women entrepreneurs of color. The New Voices Fund was launched in 2017 to invest in companies run by women of color. More recently, it is using its platform to amplify Black, female-owned independent brands, providing exposure for young startups like Brown Girl Jane and encouraging people to take the #BrownGirlSwap Pledge.

These actions are just the beginning.  At Unilever, we recognize that making real change to address systemic racism will require a long-term, multi-faceted approach, and we are committed to doing the work. By engaging our employees, using the influence of our company and our brands to advocate for change, and investing in activist organizations, we are dedicated to our responsibilities to work for equity and advancement for the Black community.


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