Equity, diversity and inclusion
We want to see a society where everyone is treated equally. We're working to create a fairer, more socially inclusive world.
Our vision for a more equitable world extends far beyond our own factories and offices. We want our entire business to work towards the transformations in society that will tackle social inequality and end the marginalisation of individuals and groups who are under-represented simply because of who they are.
At a global level, we've identified four strategic priorities for our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion strategy: gender, race and ethnicity, people with disabilities and LGBTQIA+ communities. We’ve also set 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.
- Ensure 5% of our workforce is 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.
Learn more about our global strategy and goals here and check out the progress we’ve made in Australia and New Zealand below.
Creating a gender-balanced workforce
We are deeply invested in accelerating progress for women in the workplace and we are proud to have been recognised by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) as an Employer of Choice for Gender Equality (EOCGE) since 2017. This citation recognises commitment and best practice in promoting gender equality in Australian workplaces.
Some of our longest-running programmes have focused on achieving a fair gender balance in our leadership. Currently, half of our Australian and New Zealand management positions are held by women, including our CEO, CFO, Head of Supply Chain and two of our Sales Directors. We also believe in paying for performance with clear reward policies and have a longstanding commitment to equal pay for equal work. Our compensation structures are intended to be gender neutral, with any pay differences between employees in similar jobs fairly reflecting levels of individual performance and skill.
To build a gender-balanced and inclusive business it’s critical that mothers and fathers are supported throughout their parenthood journey.
Our parental leave policy allows our employees to take 16 weeks' paid parental leave in the first year of their little one's life. This is irrespective of gender, or the amount of time they have been employed with Unilever, and is not defined by redundant “primary” or “secondary” carer statuses.
One of our Unilever Dad’s said: "Being an expecting first time parent I’m still going through all the feelings of excitement, nervousness and being daunted by the unknown. This policy really is a game changer and it gives me confidence and commitment that Unilever are here to support me on this journey to becoming a father.
I’m a Kiwi who moved over the ditch to Sydney 3 years ago so while we have a friends’ network here our family support network is still in NZ. The policy gives us an opportunity to better balance our time as a new family without the support structures we would have if we were in NZ. When mentioning this to family back home they were amazed and very encouraging. I think in some ways it takes some of the pressure of them knowing I can support my wife even more.
It also gives options for my wife and I to better balance our well being, work life balance and career aspirations. It's fantastic there is no distinction between the primary and secondary career giver, as it means if my wife would like to go back to work she can do this more easily and we also have the option to take time off together as new family.”
We also have a unique superannuation policy which enables caregivers to accrue their full superannuation for up to 52 weeks of parental leave. This means that if a carer decides to take unpaid parental leave beyond the 16 weeks paid leave that we offer, they are still entitled to their superannuation. This ensures that parents taking parental leave can continue accruing superannuation and build long-term financial security.
We’re also committed to making the return-to-work experience seamless for our parents - whether they’re office based or in one of our factories. For example, we’ve redesigned roles to allow for new permanent-casual or part-time positions, and we’ve also set up a Mother’s Room at each of our factory sites to allow Mum's to continue breastfeeding when they need to.
And finally, any employee undertaking fertility treatment is entitled to 5 days paid leave while going through the treatment. Meanwhile any employee who has experienced pregnancy loss is entitled to 10 days paid leave in the 30 days following the event.
Our Reconciliation Action Plan
Australia will never reach its full potential until we achieve Reconciliation and close the gap. It’s heartbreaking and unacceptable that the Indigenous child mortality rate is twice the rate for non-Indigenous children; that school attendance rates for Indigenous students remain lower than for non-Indigenous students; and that Indigenous employment rates sit at 49 per cent compared to around 75 per cent for non-Indigenous Australians (Closing the Gap Report 2020).
In 2021, we launched our first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) which you can read here. We're only at the start of our Reconciliation journey but our vision is clear - we want Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People to be respected as the Traditional Owners of this land by everyone. We want to see Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, traditions and languages embraced in our everyday life, and we want to see an Australia where all Indigenous people have equal and equitable opportunities.
During this first phase of our RAP, our priority will be to encourage all of our employees to reflect, listen, observe and absorb. There can be no reconciliation without listening to each other’s stories and endeavouring to hear and see these stories through the voices and eyes of those who experienced them.
We’re also focusing on how we can partner with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to create economic equity. To start, we’ve partnered with Supply Nation – Australia’s leader in supplier diversity – to connect and build relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses. And we’ve also partnered with CareerTrackers - a national program that creates paid internship opportunities for Indigenous students.
Taking action to include LGBTQIA+
We believe every employee must feel able to bring their true authentic self to work. Sadly, the Australian Workplace Equality Index, a benchmark for LGBTQ workplace inclusion, shows that many Aussies still don't feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work. And according to Diversity Works New Zealand, less than 2-in-5 organisations have a policy or programme to ensure they are inclusive of the LGBTQIA+ community.
To better understand how we can help all our employees feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work, we've partnered with Pride in Diversity – an Australian not-for-profit program for LGBTQIA+ workplace inclusion specialising in HR, organisational change and workplace diversity.
We’ve also achieved the Rainbow Tick certification in New Zealand – this is a quality framework that helps organisations show that they are safe, inclusive and affirming services and employers for the LGBTQIA+ community.
Our office bathroom signs invite guests to use the restroom that aligns with their gender identity, ensuring all people who use our facilities feel safe and comfortable to use the amenity of their choice.
And our brands are also driving action for LGBTQIA+ inclusion. For example, in 2017 Ben and Jerry's banned two of the same flavoured scoops in all scoop stores until marriage equality came into effect in Australia. No marriage equality meant no same flavour scoops, because love comes in all flavours. Read more here.
Unlocking talent of people with disabilities
One in seven of us is living with a disability. And those with a disability are among the most marginalised populations in terms of employment and educational opportunity. Removing the barriers facing people living with disabilities is long overdue.
In 2018, we set ourselves global commitments. We aim to be the number one employer of choice for people with disabilities, and by 2025 we want to see them representing 5% of our workforce. To facilitate this, we’re making all our sites accessible, adapting the way we work and transforming how we recruit and train our people.
We’ve partnered with Australian Network on Disability to advance the inclusion of people with disability in all aspects of our business. This partnership includes working closely together on a range of initiatives including recruitment, policy, and workplace adjustments. As part of our early Talent strategy, and our Unilever Intern Future Leaders, we hire interns through the Stepping Into program.
We’ve also created a global employee resource group for people with disabilities and their allies called Enable@Unilever.
Breaking down stereotypes in advertising
According to UN Women, the Australian advertising industry accounts for approximately $17.3 billion in spend and employs over 200,000 people. Therefore, representation of our community in advertising and media content is critical to creating an equal and open society. One of the best ways to ensure that is to have representation across the advertising, marketing, tech and media industry.
That's why we're part of the UN Women's Australian chapter of the Unstereotype Alliance, a global coalition that aims to tackle harmful stereotypes in advertising and media content.
The Australian chapter - launched in 2021 - aims to use advertising as a force for good by depicting progressive portrayals of all people, and ensuring diversity is a priority throughout the entire creative process. The initiative will adopt an inter-sectional approach to address the representation of gender, race, ethnicity and ability in media and advertising content.
As a Global Champion of the Alliance, we are leading the charge alongside other companies including IPG, Mars, Westpac and Coles. Other members and allies include Accenture, Omnicom, Publicis Groupe, WPP, Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA), Bayer Australia, Diageo Australia, Facebook Australia, Google Australia, Ikea, Ipsos, Mastercard Australia, Optus, Salesforce, Snap Inc, and Suncorp.