Melissa Luken - Director, Supply Chain - Unilever Food Solutions
Balancing work and personal life is very important to me. At home, I have got a young family - six-year-old twin girls and a little boy who is four. Unilever and my direct-line managers really have been fantastic at supporting this side of my life, recognising that my family is a critical part of what makes me who I am. They make sure that I feel that my family is properly supported and cared for when I come to work, so that I can focus on achieving business results that I also recognize as critical for my continued career success and that I get satisfaction from delivering.
When I started at Unilever two decades ago, I was very career-oriented, but several years ago my husband and I decided to add to our family. I knew it would mean an adjustment and I was trying to figure out how to not let that become overly stressful. I did not want my choice to expand our family mean that I would have to sacrifice my amazing career.
A variety of Unilever schemes allowed me the opportunity to do both without either one having to take a back seat. Agile working allows for some flexibility in arranging work hours, to suit your family commitments, or even the convenience to work in an environment that suits your way of working. Unilever also offers benefits like ‘backup care’ for making alternate arrangements for child care, if or when your primary caregiver cannot be available.
More than anything, I know that if something were to happen to me or my family, Unilever would absolutely support me through it, and that gives me peace of mind. They support the fact that family comes first, so in the rare instance when you need to take a day off to go care for your child, there is never a question about it. It gives me a huge comfort level - like an insurance policy. You know it is always there but you do not have to use it day-in-day-out. And that is the biggest perk for me, knowing that our company culture is a family-first mentality. We are absolutely encouraged and supported to take care of our families when required, then when you get back to work you can focus.
The great thing is, that culture applies equally to everyone. Unilever has introduced paternity leave, because it is just as important for men when they have a new child coming into their life. New fathers can now take time off work for four weeks and enjoy that special time with their newborn. It is such a leap forward, and gives us all another reason to be proud of working for Unilever.