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.

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 to focus on where we can create more balanced gender representation.

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.

What’s our gender pay gap?

When we look at our worldwide business as a whole, in countries with more than 250 employees, the average female pay was 26% higher than male pay in 2018 (2017: 25%). This is largely due to the fact that 80% of our lower-paying blue-collar roles are held by male employees.

Our Framework for Fair Compensation reviews the average pay differences between genders at each work level and in each country. The most recent analysis highlights that there is more work to do to continue improving our gender balance, and related gender pay gaps, at various levels and in various countries throughout the business.

For example, our overall female average pay in Singapore was 19% lower than our male average in 2018. This is despite females having a total representational balance of 64% in our Singapore business and occupying 61% of our managerial positions. This is because there were proportionately more males than females in our director roles and above, which brought the overall male average pay above that of females.

By contrast, Pakistan had only 1% female employees at blue-collar level but a higher representation in the most senior positions, which meant our overall female average pay in Pakistan was in fact 78% higher than the male average.



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.

We published our second report (PDF - 3.4MB) in 2018. This showed that at Unilever in the UK, the median hourly pay for women was 2.5% more than men, which compares favourably to the national median hourly pay where women earn 17.9% less than men. And over 2018, the proportion of women increased at the majority of levels within the business.

These results reflect the UK-based population where women account for just over half of all management positions while a large number of male employees work in non-managerial factory roles.

Sebastian Munden, our General Manager, Unilever UK and Ireland commented: “We’re proud of the progress we have made to achieve better gender balance at Unilever. We know that becoming truly diverse and providing equal opportunities at all career stages is the only way to build a sustainable business able to thrive.”

Gender pay gaps versus equal pay

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.”

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