We are convinced that driving equity, diversity and inclusion makes our business stronger. We know a more diverse and inclusive workforce can boost performance, reputation, innovation and motivation – and bring us closer to our consumers. 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 and several 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. However, we are also setting ourselves clear 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 ₹2,000 crores annually with diverse businesses by 2025
- Increase representation of diverse groups in our advertising
Building a gender-balanced organisation
According to the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report 2021, at the current rate of progress, women will have to wait around 135 years to close the overall gender gap with men. This is not nearly fast enough.
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 focussing on hiring top women talent across work levels, providing career development and mentorship opportunities, agile working and parental support. Another small but important step has been the induction of female shop-floor employees at our Haldia, Garden Reach, Gandhidham, Sumerpur and Kidderpore factories.
Our flexible working, formal career break policies and parental support extend to employees of all genders and orientations. We want to ensure that people’s experience of Unilever is fair for everyone and that we actively include members of LGBTQI+ communities, persons with disabilities and other minority groups.
Diversity and equal opportunity are key commitments in our Code of Business Principles (PDF 8.52MB) which applies to every Unilever employee, across 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 policy framework and standards are described in Promoting Safety For Women. Through our partnership with the UN Women, we published A Global Women’s Safety Framework in Rural Spaces (PDF 6.53MB). 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 of sexual harassment, gender-based violence, and strengthening our grievance mechanisms.
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. Additionally, as a part of the #Unmute campaign, we also covered one 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.
Safety at work remains a key focus. Our Total Recordable Frequency Rate* (TRFR) was 0.31 accidents per million hours worked (1st October 2020 to 30th September 2021) as compared to 0.34 in the same period last year.
*(TRFR: Employee + Contractor)
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 creating awareness and building a culture of allyship through inclusion workshops, training, and a celebration of game changers from the community. We were selected as a ‘GOLD Employer’ by Stonewall India, in the 2020 India Workplace Equality Index (IWEI). We have also ensured the provision of gender-inclusive restrooms across our main offices.
Enhancing access to training and skills
Glow & Lovely Careers
Our Glow & Lovely Careers programme helps women create an identity for themselves by providing them with career guidance, skill-based courses, and information on job opportunities. The platform addresses multiple skilling barriers faced by girls and women in India including limited access to transportation, lack of parental permission, high cost of courses and very few good quality, local institutes. Over 1.6 million users have registered under the programme and the platform has facilitated over 5 lakh course enrolments and supported over 4 lakh users.
The website offers skill-based courses in partnership with well-known edtech companies like edX, English Edge, Hello English, start-ups such as www.testbook.com and www.idreamcareer.com, and internship opportunities through online training partner Internshala.
Improve livelihoods of farmers
As one of the biggest FMCG companies in India, HUL generates direct and indirect employment for several people across our value chain. Our supplier and distribution networks involve thousands of smallholder farmers, distributors, and retailers, many of whom are women. We embed sustainability across our business and use the power of our brands to contribute to a fairer, more socially inclusive world.
Smallholder Farmers (SHFs) enrolled on 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 best practice principles for farming with thousands of farmers to make their operations more sustainable.
SHFs are trained on the Tea Board of India’s Plant Protection Code (PPC) and the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) have benefitted them in terms of health and compliance.
1trustea 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 continued even during COVID-19. By recognising the need for product distribution in rural areas, we ensured that most rural consumers had access to our hygiene portfolio along with other products.
We have a team of Rural Sales Promoters (RSPs) who coach and help SEs in managing their business. The ‘Shakti Ammas’ have expressed that being part of Project Shakti has improved their social status amongst their immediate family and within the larger community.
By the end of 2021, Project Shakti had supported over 1,60,000 Shakti Ammas across 18 states. In 2022, Team Shakti continues to empower more rural women and drive consistent growth.
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).
It 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 focussed 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 over seven million people across 21 states and two union territories since its inception in 2013. During COVID-19 in 2021, more than 1.2 million people benefitted from the distribution of hygiene kits.
Empowering persons with disabilities
Prabhat also launched a first-of-its kind centre in Kolkata wherein Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) are 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 the 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 who are pregnant and lactating.
We also work with our partners to enhance employability skills and income generation amongst rural communities. We offer training in beauty and hair care, tailoring, retail sales, electrical, and e-commerce. Over 95,000 people have been imparted skill development and training in the farm and non-farm sectors, while 50,000 people have secured employment.