Diversity and Inclusion

Becoming a truly diverse and inclusive company is not only the right thing to do, it is crucial to helping us grow our business, attract and retain talent, and engage the people who buy our products.

Diversity and inclusion

Leena Nair, Chief Human Resources Officer

Leena Nair


“Diversity and inclusion at Unilever is about embracing differences, creating possibilities and progressing together to build a sustainable business. My vision for Unilever is to create an inclusive environment that allows all of our people to thrive and perform at their very best, irrespective of their gender or background.”

As a responsible business we are driving equality of opportunity and inclusion, not only within our organisation, but across society. Starting with progressive policies and practices in our workplace, we are building on this foundation by collaborating with other businesses and organisations to create opportunities for women across our extended supply chain, in our sales and customer development operations, and via products and brands for our 2.5 billion consumers worldwide - 70% of whom are women.

Within our business, our diversity and inclusion strategy is driven at the very highest level through our Global Diversity Board, which is chaired by our CEO, Alan Jope, and championed by Aline Santos, Unilever’s SVP Marketing and Global Head of Diversity. The board provides the overarching vision, governance and target setting for diversity and inclusion across the global business.

Diversity and Inclusion in the UK and Ireland

Building a diverse, inclusive and performance-based culture is at the core of our action plan for our UK and Ireland business.

We are making strong progress across our business, where women account for 55%* of all management positions in the UK, this is up from 41.8% in 2010. We are very proud that our progress has been externally recognised. As in previous years, in 2017 we featured in the Times Top 50 Employers for Women list, as well as winning the Business in the Community Responsible Business Award for Gender Equality. We have received gold accreditation for Mumsnet Family Friendly, as well as being awarded Employer of the Year in the Mumsnet Family Friendly awards.

*Data from March 2020

Diversity and inclusion

To further encourage an inclusive working environment, we recognise a number of UN international days to raise awareness and show support for ethnic minorities, individuals with disabilities, the LGBT+ community and women. We are proud to have joined the London Pride Parade in the last few years.

Gender Pay Gap Report

In line with government legislation which requires all companies with 250 employees or more to publish a range of gender pay statistics, we will publish our Gender Pay Gap report for Unilever in the UK each year. As well as outlining our results for the total UK workforce, it sets out our diversity and inclusion plans for the future.

Building an inclusive workplace

Our policies & flexible working

At Unilever, we have a range of market-leading, family-friendly and flexible working policies, which enable our employees to balance their day-to-day responsibilities.

These policies and practices include:

  • Agile working, which gives employees the possibility to work remotely and flex their own hours, whilst ensuring business needs are met.
  • Flexible working arrangements including, but not limited to, part-time and job share opportunities.
  • Enhanced leave policies - all employees taking maternity or shared parental leave have up to 16 weeks’ paid leave and some eligible employees can have up to 39 weeks’ paid leave. In addition, our Maternity & Paternity Services portal provides online resources to support employees at all stages of parenthood, as well as tailored guidance for line managers.
  • Practical support including, nursery benefits and back-up care for parents and carers.
  • A constant focus on wellbeing for employees, including regular health checks, mental health support and our Employee Assistance Programme.

Mentoring & training

We have a strong culture of mentoring, training and learning across the organisation, with a range of resources and initiatives available:

  • Mentoring and coaching
  • Leadership and general business skills training, including unconscious bias
  • Learning for all, via access to internal and external resources
  • Workshops which support personal and team development.

Our stories

Jane Maciver and Shelagh Muir, VP R&D Oral Care, have been successfully job sharing for the past two years.

Jane Maciver

UKI Jane Maciver


“I knew that I wanted to progress into a more senior role but was keen to do so with the flexibility to invest in myself alongside my career. Job-sharing has been a huge benefit in terms of my health and wellbeing. For me, it’s so important to make space for all aspects of your life and to focus on a more holistic sense of purpose.

 Job-sharing gives us the opportunity to benefit and enjoy the challenge of fulfilling a VP role with the support of each other, whilst having the space, time and capacity to invest in our personal purpose outside of the working environment. On my days off I benefit from the opportunity to completely relax without any internal conflict of what I’m missing at work.

For our role there’s a real benefit to having two brains over one. We have similar values but different networks, styles of working and expertise. We approach issues differently, which makes our output greater. We’re also a great support to each other and can bounce ideas off one another, which adds to our strength and creativity.”

Shelagh Muir

UKI Shelagh Muir


“I’d been working in this VP role for a while by myself and saw a huge opportunity in job-sharing the role, both from a personal and professional perspective. For me, the benefit of job-sharing is that it allows me to invest my time in other aspects of my life where I want to have an impact. Currently, I’m involved in working with my community garden which gives me a great sense of fulfilment.

At Unilever, everybody has been incredibly supportive and encouraging. We both work three-day weeks, with a cross over day on Wednesday. The key point is we form one entity. It’s very rewarding working so closely with Jane and gives me a great energy within my role.”

David Tregidgo, Human Resources Director, decided to take an eight-month shared paternal leave to focus on his family and support the birth of his daughter.

David Tregidgo

David with his family


“Being able to make time for the things that matter most, such as family, is important. When my wife and I were expecting our second child I decided that, in addition to my paternity leave, I would take two periods of parental leave, including a week before the birth of our son and a month later in the year.

Recently my wife and I had our third child. We’ve jointly decided that she would return to work after 4 months and that I would take an eight-month period of shared parental leave so that our baby gets her first year with one or the other of us. This will see my role covered with the same process as maternity leave and I am looking forward to returning to my role next year.

Having such a broad range of paternity options available gives me the opportunity to support my wife, take care of our children and spend quality time together as a family. Being able to focus solely on my family during these times is the right choice for me and I’m thankful for being able to make the most of this benefit at Unilever.”

Our global commitment

As well as being vital to the success of our business, we know that advancing diversity within Unilever plays a part in our wider ambitions to challenge outdated gender norms and stereotypes throughout our value chain.

Through our household brands we are helping to break down unhelpful gender stereotypes. In June 2016, we launched a ground-breaking campaign to challenge gender stereotyping in advertising called #Unstereotype, and we are working with our marketing and creative agencies to create more progressive and positive portrayals of women in our advertising and communications. Brands including Dove and Lynx are leading our global campaign.

More broadly, and as part of our Sustainable Living Plan, we are committed to empowering five million women by 2020 across our global business, value chain and the communities in which we operate. With support from our partners we are making progress on this target – by 2018 we had enabled around 1.85 million women to access initiatives aiming to promote their safety, develop their skills and expand their opportunities.

To find out more on what we’re doing to address diversity as a global business please click here.