By Amanda Sourry, president, Unilever North America
We live in a fast-changing and highly complex world. The profile of our customers, consumers and employees have undergone a fundamental shift. Now more than ever, it’s imperative that the workplace reflects the world we live in. Workplace diversity is no longer just a good thing to do – it has become a business necessity.
As president of Unilever North America, I am proud of the continued efforts Unilever is leading around diversity and inclusion. When I started in this role in January, I was pleased to see that Unilever North America had joined the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion in 2017. I am extremely energized to see the progress that Unilever and businesses across the U.S. are making in such an important area by joining together.
Unilever is a purpose-driven company and diversity and inclusion are an integral part of the way we do business. We strongly believe that diverse teams ultimately perform better and help ensure our talent reflects the consumers and customers we serve. To grow as a company, we need to ensure all our employees feel valued and can bring their full selves to work every day. Our core belief that “Every Voice Matters, Every Story Celebrated” comes to life in a multitude of ways at Unilever – through our employee programs and benefits packages as well as the activities of our brands like Ben & Jerry’s and Dove.
Our 12 business resource groups (BRGs) — for women, Hispanic, Asian, Black, LGBTQ, veterans, diversability groups and parents, among others — are led by employees who lend their voices and perspectives. “Every Voice Matters” is also reflected in our progressive policies designed to meet the needs of employees across different life stages.
For working mothers, we provide 19 weeks of maternity leave, free shipping of breast milk for traveling moms and modern, well-equipped mother’s rooms. We also offer 8 weeks of paid paternity and adoptive leave, enhanced adoptive assistance, support for children with disabilities, back-up childcare, and expansive fertility benefits.
Unilever has increased efforts to accelerate development for women and people of color beyond our skill and leadership development programs. We’re also invested in building a strong diversity ecosystem with external organizations.
Since becoming a member of the CEO Action group, we’ve had the privilege to share our progress and learn from other companies that are on the same journey. We believe that without collaboration we cannot truly champion and amplify the moral and business need for diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
To build on the collaborative nature of the CEO Action group, Unilever held our first Diversity & Inclusion Summit at our U.S. headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, last month. The summit was a weeklong celebration of our quest to reenergize our employees with our commitment to inclusion. The summit provided an opportunity for employees to attend engaging sessions that explored all aspects of diversity. During the week, we also took the opportunity to bring together leaders from other organizations across the country to create an open dialogue on the extremely important topic of leading in turbulent times so that we could learn from each other.
We continue our commitment to fighting discrimination by constantly improving our own hiring and training programs. We’ve enhanced our education programs to include mandatory unconscious bias training for all managers. We also require cultural immersion training sessions for our marketers, from gaining a better understanding of the Black experience in America to learning valuable insights about the the LGBTQ community, to ensure we can best meet the needs of every consumer.
Finally, our brands are championing inclusivity through campaigns and initiatives. Dove Men+Care is one such example. Through our #DearFutureDadscampaign we’re advocating for paternity leave for dads — because we know that when dads take paternity leave, everyone benefits: women, children, families and society. At Unilever, we are leading this charge by challenging the stigma of taking paternity leave and encouraging all of our colleagues to take their full time off.
There is still more work to be done, but Unilever North America is committed to continuing the dialogue around diversity and inclusion and taking a stand against discrimination of any kind in the workplace.
CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion was spearheaded by PwC U.S. Chairman Tim Ryan.