Equity, diversity and inclusion
Until social justice and fairness become commonplace across the world, it is our responsibility to drive equity and create a fairer, more socially inclusive society. That means going further than ever to break down barriers and create opportunities in our workplaces, our supply and distribution chains, and in society at large. This will not only help build a fairer world, but will also strengthen our business.
The central ambition of the drive for equity is to ‘leave no one behind’. Both the global sustainable development agenda as well as a number of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) align with this central element. Thereby, allowing us to fully commit to justice and human rights across all our businesses.
Equity should drive everything we do, everywhere. But we're also setting ourselves clear global objectives that will help us tackle inequality and drive inclusion.
- Achieve an equitable and inclusive culture by eliminating any bias and discrimination in our practices and policies
- Accelerate diverse representation at all levels of leadership
- 5% of our workforce to be made up of people with disabilities by 2025
- Spend €2 billion annually with diverse businesses worldwide by 2025
- Increase representation of diverse groups in our advertising
Building a gender-balanced organisation with a focus on management
As far as gender parity goes, we’re still more than 250 years away from women achieving parity with men, in economic participation and opportunity. People with disabilities are more likely to experience low incomes or unemployment and LGBTQI+ communities continue to experience persecution.
We are committed to being gender balanced in our managerial team within the next few years. This progress continues on account of enablers such as focusing on hiring top women talent across work levels, providing career development and mentorship opportunities, agile working and parental support. Another small but important step in our diversity journey has been the recent induction of female shop-floor employees at our Haldia and Kidderpore factories.
Our flexible working, formal career break policies and parental support extend to employees of all genders and orientations. We want to make sure that people’s experience of Unilever is fair for everyone and that we are fully including members of LGBTQI+ communities, persons with disabilities and other minority groups.
We’re ready to put in the work and rethink what ‘fairness’ truly means. Diversity and equal opportunity are key commitments in our Code of Business Principles (PDF 8.52MB) which applies to every Unilever employee, everywhere in the world.
Promoting safety for women in communities where we operate
The safety of our women and girls in operations and communities where we operate, including our extended supply chain, is our top priority. Our framework of policies and standards are described in Promoting safety for women. Through our partnership with the UN Women, we have successfully published A Global Women’s Safety Framework in Rural Spaces.
This partnership works towards improving the safety of our women in agriculture and our tea suppliers in India. Sustainable growth is further achievable through awareness, engagement, and capacity building. We aim to implement this by increasing awareness on sexual harassment, gender-based violence, and strengthening our grievance mechanisms.
In March 2020, we launched the #HULStandsforWomenSafety initiative in partnership with Son Rise and UN Women to encourage each employee to take the HeforShe Pledge. We also committed to cover 1 lakh+ women in 2021 across our value chain through an education and awareness campaign around safety at home, at the workplace and in public spaces.
With the alarming rise in domestic violence cases during the lockdown, we were the first employer in India to formally launch a holistic, gender-neutral policy for survivors of domestic and other abuse by providing them with access to counselling, special paid leave for relevant appointments with support agencies and solicitors, temporary/permanent changes to working times, patterns and more.
Safety at work remains a key focus. As compared to the 2008 baseline, we have successfully reduced the total recordable frequency rate (TRFR) by 87% for accidents in our factories and offices in 2019.
Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs)
We are committed to including persons with disabilities in our employment ecosystem and workforce. HUL allows for Voluntary Self Disclosure and Reasonable Accommodation Policy to enable employees to discreetly disclose their disability and avail support.
We are continuing to create awareness about diversity of genders and orientations and build a culture of allyship through inclusion workshops, trainings, and a celebration of game changers from the community. An acknowledgement of our continued efforts on LGBTQI+ inclusion has been our selection as a “GOLD Employer” by Stonewall India, in the 2020 India Workplace Equality Index (IWEI). We have also ensured provision of all gender inclusive restrooms across our main offices.
Enhancing access to training and skills
Glow & Lovely Careers
Our Glow & Lovely Careers initiative helps women create an identity for themselves through career guidance, skill-based courses, and job opportunities, as well as online training and skilling. The platform addresses multiple skilling barriers that girls and women in India face including limited access to transportation, lack of parental permission, high cost of courses and very few quality local institutes. Over 1 million users have registered and the platform has facilitated over 4,30,000 course enrolments and supported over 3,60,000 users in accessing career guidance, skill-based courses as well as job opportunities to empower themselves for a better future.
Glow & Lovely Careers is powered by a range of high-quality education and career guidance partners including established EdTech companies like edX, English Edge, Hello English and start-ups such as www.testbook.com and www.idreamcareer.com.
Improve livelihoods of farmers
As one of the biggest FMCG companies in India, HUL generates direct and indirect employment for hundreds of thousands of people across our value chain. Our supplier and distribution networks involve thousands of smallholder farmers, distributors and retailers, many of whom are women. We are embedding sustainability across our business and using the power of our brands to contribute to a fairer, more socially inclusive world.
Smallholder Farmers (SHF’s) enrolled to the trustea1 program have more access to formal training opportunities on sustainable practices focused on the environment, safety and livelihoods. They are trained on the sustainable use of agrochemicals, nutrition management based on soil analysis, and good agricultural practices.
We are also working with farmers and suppliers to drive up social and environmental standards in our supply chain. Since 2010, we have constantly supported them through the Unilever Sustainable Agriculture Code and equivalent standards like trustea and the Rainforest Alliance, to implement collection of best practice principles for farming with thousands of farmers in order to make their operations more sustainable.
SHF’s are trained on the Tea Board of India's Plant Protection Code (PPC) and use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) have benefitted them in terms of health and compliance.
1 trustea is a multi-stakeholder program, locally developed and owned India sustainability tea code.
Expanding opportunities in our value chain
Project Shakti aims to provide livelihood enhancing opportunities to women micro-entrepreneurs in rural India. It embraces HUL’s philosophy of ‘Doing Well by Doing Good’. This philosophy has been extended even during COVID-19. By recognising the need for product distribution in rural areas, we ensured that more and more rural consumers have access to our hygiene portfolio along with other products.
Shakti Entrepreneurs (SEs) are given training for familiarisation with HUL’s products and basic tenets of distribution management. HUL has a team of Rural Sales Promoters (RSPs) who coach and help SEs in managing their business. The ‘Shakti Ammas’ have also expressed that being part of Project Shakti has improved their social status among their immediate family and within the larger community.
By the end of 2020, Project Shakti had supported nearly 1,36,000 Shakti Ammas across 18 states. In 2021, Team Shakti continues their journey of empowering more rural women and driving consistent growth.
Rin Shine Academy
The Rin Shine Academy aims to provide career readiness skills to the youth in India. It focuses on offering simple but valuable skills, such as English Speaking and Interview Training. In order to keep up with the times, the delivery platform has changed from IVRS & Website to an Android Mobile App. So far, over 6,37,178 people have benefitted from this programme.
Prabhat is our sustainable community development initiative that is linked to the Unilever Compass. It builds on the local community needs at the grassroots level, in line with India’s development agenda and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With an aim to create sustainable communities in line with India’s development agenda and the Global Sustainable Development Goals, we are building on the local community needs at the grassroots level.
Project Prabhat is contributing to a fairer and more socially and environmentally inclusive world, while using HUL’s scale for good. It ultimately aims to create sustainable communities in and around HUL sites through focused interventions on Economic Empowerment (skilling, entrepreneurship and value chain), Environmental Sustainability (water conservation, waste management and climate adaptation), Health (nutrition, hygiene, sanitation and WASH – water, sanitation and hygiene) and Education (basic infrastructure).
Project Prabhat has reached out to close to 6 million people across 19 states and 2 union territories since its inception in 2013. During COVID-19 in 2020, more than 1.3 million people across 230 locations benefitted from the distribution of relief kits, including lifebuoy soaps, grocery kits and food packets.
Prabhat also launched first-of-its kind centre in Kolkata wherein PwDs (Persons with Disabilities) trained to become e-commerce professionals. By linking artisans to the digital world of e-commerce through our trained Prabhat beneficiaries, the centre in Kolkata has helped enhance livelihoods.
Another milestone was set in the Chhindwara Livelihood Centre, where Prabhat promotes community collectives and value chain interventions to enhance employability and income of local communities, especially women. Prabhat also aligns with the National Nutrition Mission through its ‘Poshan Saathis’ programme, where young girls and women reach out to people around the HUL factories, demystifying nutrition for women, especially those that are pregnant and lactating. The Poshan Saathis have reached out to over 84,000 rural women, empowering them with better decision-making abilities on health, as a result of health literacy dissemination and demystifying nutritional myths.
We also work with our partners to enhance employability skills and income generation among rural communities. We have been offering training in the areas of beauty and hair care, tailoring, retail sales, electrical, and e-commerce. These Livelihood Centres have provided enrolment to over 88,000 people, has certified more than 71,000 people, and created jobs for over 48,000 people across the country.