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No discrimination in compensation

Avoiding a gender bias in pay is central to our ambition for fair compensation.

Group of office workers in a meeting

Discrimination of all kinds holds back individuals and our business – and it has no place in the culture we want to create in Unilever.

Equal pay for equal work

We have a longstanding commitment to equal pay for equal work, which is one of five principles of our Framework for Fair Compensation (PDF | 449KB).

It’s a key part of our commitment to developing an inclusive culture and respecting the contribution of all employees regardless of gender, age, race, disability or sexual orientation.

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.

We review our pay structures in each country annually as part of our Framework’s compliance process. If our analysis indicates any average pay differences between genders at a country or grade level (a ‘gender pay gap’), we will support and identify opportunities to address gaps via our diversity and inclusion initiatives. This will help us achieve our ambition for our Framework for Fair Compensation to support full equal opportunities for all.

We also cascade the principles of our Framework to our suppliers through our Responsible Sourcing Policy (PDF | 5MB). Its Fundamental Principle 3 requires that “all workers are treated equally and with respect and dignity”, which includes compensation. See Advancing human rights with our suppliers & business partners. Our Responsible Business Partner Policy (PDF | 3MB) sets out the employment terms we expect our network of distributors and sales agents to adopt, including no discrimination.

Looking out for gender pay gaps

What is the gender pay gap?

The gender pay gap is the average difference in pay between men and women, measured at a company level within a country. It’s explained through various statistics and is influenced by a range of factors, including the demographics of a company’s workforce.

Our analysis of the average pay gap between women and men – at a country level and at job grade level – helps us identify any areas of gender representation imbalance, such as in the types of jobs held by women compared to men. We use this information for targeted interventions to create more balanced gender representation wherever possible.

Explaining gender pay gaps: the importance of demographics

Our analysis on gender pay gap highlights a broad trend: a lower pay gap in those countries with a larger female Unilever workforce. How balanced the workforce is at each work level also has a significant impact on average pay differences. Average gender pay gap analysis therefore needs to be viewed in the context of a country’s workforce gender demographics.

When we look at our worldwide business as a whole, in countries with more than 250 employees, the average female pay was 25% higher than male pay in 2017. This is largely due to demographics, with female employees often being in higher-paying, white-collar roles. While there are often more men than women in these higher-paying roles, the average male pay is often reduced by high numbers of men in lower-paying, blue-collar roles.

For example, Singapore had 63% female managers in 2017 and a relatively solid gender progression upwards. However, the average female pay was lower than the male average because there are proportionately more males in director roles or above. This demographic raises the overall male average pay above the average for females. By contrast, Pakistan had only 1% female employees at blue-collar level. More women are in senior roles and the large male blue-collar population reduces the average male pay compared to average female pay.

As is the case in most businesses, we have historically seen proportionately more men progress to senior job levels compared to women, both at global corporate level and at individual country level. At the global corporate level, our average pay gap between genders at our executive (most senior) level was 9.3% in 2017. This is lower than in previous years, and primarily a result of our two highest-paid roles (Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer) being held by men. Length of service also contributes to the pay gap, with men typically serving longer.

Similar analysis across our management levels shows the average pay gap between genders is less than 3.8%. Our analysis at factory level for 2017 showed no significant differences in gender pay within equal roles.


Gender pay report

UK gender pay gap

In December 2017, we published our gender pay gap results for our UK business (PDF | 5MB), in line with the UK Government’s new Gender Pay Gap regulations.

Unilever UK’s overall results are broadly balanced: the median hourly pay for women is 2.2% more than men. This compares favourably to UK median hourly pay where women earn 18.4% less than men.

These results reflect our UK-based workforce, in which women hold just over half of all management positions (up from 41.8% in 2010) and there are a large number of men who work in non-managerial factory roles.

The difference between gender pay gap & equal pay

Louise Sutton

Louise Sutton, Global Equity & Reward Manager in our HR function, explains gender pay gap is not a measure of equal pay.

“Gender pay gap is high-level diversity indicator of whether a company has a gender-balanced workforce. To understand this we believe it’s useful to have clear definitions of equal pay and gender pay gap.

Equal pay is about ensuring there is no pay difference between genders doing the same job. Gender pay gap is the average pay difference between genders at a company level within a country.

Just because a gender pay gap exists at a company level, it does not mean that female employees are paid less than male employees at a grade or individual job level. The gender pay gap simply shows that the company average pay is different between the genders.

Even if a company has a rigorously applied equal pay reward practice, there could be a company level gender pay gap showing the average female salary is lower than the average male. This could be due to gender demographics.”

Advocating equal pay for women

Unilever continues to be vocal about the equality of women in the workplace. By signing the White House Equal Pay Pledge, we remain committed to reviewing our policies and ensuring Unilever is a leader in providing benefits that empower women at work.

Mike Clementi, our Vice President of Human Resources, Unilever North America

We believe that reducing the average pay gap across society between men and women is a crucial part of fair compensation.

On Women’s Equality Day in August 2016, we joined 29 companies in signing the White House Equal Pay Pledge. For our US business, this pledge means we will conduct an annual gender pay analysis, review hiring and promotion processes and procedures to reduce unconscious bias and structural barriers and embed equal pay.

These measures reaffirm our commitment to the advancement of women’s economic inclusion as a business priority – see Opportunities for Women for more details.

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