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Equity, diversity and inclusion

Strategy and goals

Social justice and fairness have not been achieved anywhere in the world. Until they are, we need to be at the centre of the global drive to build equity – and to creating a fairer, more socially inclusive world.

Reaching the excluded and lifting barriers

We want everyone who works for Unilever to be treated fairly and to have fair access to opportunities.

Unilever’s headquarters building in the UK with an illuminated rainbow to mark Gay Pride

Diversity and inclusion have been core elements of our business strategy for many years. We want to take that momentum and go further – in the pursuit of equity. For us, equity means fair treatment, and fair access to opportunities, information and resources for all, so that everyone can thrive in truly inclusive societies.

The drive for equity is a core element of the global sustainable development agenda, with its central ambition to ‘leave no one behind’ and supports a number of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). And it’s the link that joins the fundamental principles of our business: a commitment to justice and human rights everywhere we operate, and a determination to apply a gender perspective to everything we do.

There doesn't need to be a business case for doing the right thing. When it comes to inclusion, the business case is as plain as the moral one. We're 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 staff motivation – and bring us closer to our consumers. That helps us grow. And creating more inclusive advertising that positively reflects the diversity of our audiences has been proven to deliver stronger business results, including higher purchase intention and greater branded impact. Promoting diversity in our supply and distribution chain opens new opportunities for us, as well as for the people who help us make and sell our products.

Illustration of 5 people from different cultures

Equity and equality

We want our entire business to work towards the transformations in society that will tackle social inequality and unfairness, and end the marginalisation of individuals and groups who are under-represented simply because of who they are.

That's why we pursue equity as well as equality – fair treatment, and fair access to opportunities, information and resources for all, so that everyone can thrive in truly inclusive societies.

Driving equity in every part of our business

We want to build a truly inclusive business, one that lifts barriers and helps excluded and underserved populations access their fair share of opportunity. We’re committed to respect for human rights and raising living standards, and we’re open to all with a framework of codes and policies that set out our zero tolerance of discrimination and commitment to equal opportunity.

We’re taking a holistic approach that focuses on how we can use the scale and reach of our business to have the greatest impact: driving equity through our workplaces, equity through our brands, equity in our supply chain, and equity in our communities. We've identified four strategic priorities in our drive for equity: gender; race and ethnicity; people with disabilities; and LGBTQI+.

Our goals

Equity should drive everything we do, everywhere. As part of our Unilever Compass we've also set ourselves clear objectives that will help us tackle inequality and drive inclusion.

Creating an equitable and inclusive culture

We’ve made significant progress over many years through our commitments to empowering women, to achieving gender balance, and to fair workplace practices that aim to tackle discrimination and bias.

But we need to go further. We will become a beacon of diversity and inclusion by looking at every aspect of what we do and ensuring it’s fair and inclusive to everyone, particularly under-represented groups. We’re seeking equity in: our policies and practices; our employee experience; our talent attraction, recruitment and selection; and in representation and retention.

We’re determined to achieve a culture where all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully, celebrating their uniqueness.

Evelyn Espinal, our Global Vice President, Equity, Inclusion and Diversity

Increasing diversity across our business

Woman on an online meeting

We reached our 50:50 target of gender balance in management in 2019. While that was an important milestone, we know we need to go further in other areas, such as accelerating representation at leadership level that is diverse in terms of race and ethnicity as well as gender. We’ve established a Racial and Ethnic Equity Taskforce to help us develop our racial equity framework.

We’re also looking at how we tackle equity in representation for our 148,000 employees – because our workforce should fundamentally represent the demographic of the communities we operate in, all over the world.

Removing barriers for people with disabilities

Our ambition involves transforming the way we recruit and train our people. It means adapting both the way we work and our workplaces, so we can support people with disabilities to reach their full potential. But people with a disability are among the most under-represented populations in terms of employment and educational opportunity. We want to address this inequality by removing the obstacles that block people’s progress – as well as through tackling stereotypes.

Spending more with diverse businesses

Creating opportunity is one of the most important ways to build an inclusive world. Ensuring people have fair access to business opportunities – including opportunities created by working with Unilever – can drive economic inclusion and empowerment.

We want to open up opportunities by supporting new and existing diverse suppliers to join our procurement network. We’re expanding our support for small and medium-sized diverse businesses with a comprehensive supplier development programme that will provide access to skills, financing and networking opportunities for diverse-owned small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Showing more diversity in our advertising

What we see and hear when we consume advertising can shape our perceptions, attitudes, beliefs and the way we view other people. Yet for too long, advertising has failed to reflect people as they truly are and done little to tackle stereotypes and harmful norms that hold people back and lead to inequality. As one of the world’s biggest advertisers, we have a responsibility to make our ads work towards the fairer future we want to see. We want our brands and our advertising to drive positive change by preventing discrimination and the reinforcement of negative stereotypes.

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