Opportunities for women
We want to help create a fairer, more inclusive world. That means a world in which every woman and girl can create the kind of life she wishes to lead, unconstrained by harmful norms and stereotypes. We believe a world where women are economically empowered will be a fairer, happier and more prosperous place to live for everybody – and that our business will flourish in it.
An inclusive world needs business to be inclusive
We want to be an inclusive business – and we want to help create a more inclusive, prosperous and gender-equal world, in which no one is left behind, regardless of gender, age, race or ability.
Empowering and including women throughout our value chain is a vital part of this ambition – because at the moment, women are still far from achieving social, economic and political equality. In fact, at the current rate of progress, women will have to wait nearly 100 years to close the overall gender gap with men. Most challenging of all, according to the annual World Economic Forum Gender Gap Report 2020, is the economic sphere, which will take 257 years to close.
We have the opportunity to be the last generation that has to fight this inequality.
We want our business to be a leading force in closing the gender gap, and to challenge and change the harmful norms and stereotypes that are a barrier to women’s economic empowerment – and the adverse norms and stereotypes of masculinity that confine men too.
Transforming societies, and our business
Empowering women will transform individual lives, societies − and our business.
It’s essential to the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with their overarching ambition to leave no one behind.
And while empowering women and girls is the specific focus of SDG 5, Achieving Gender Equality, it is also a thread that stitches all the SDGs together. In particular, it underpins the SDGs that aim to improve access to skills and employment and the resulting economic empowerment this brings.
Our business, too, will be transformed by achieving gender equality and empowering women. Women are over 70% of our consumer base, and 50% of the talent pool from whom we recruit our workforce. We benefit from empowering women as discerning consumers with rising incomes and full freedom to choose how they spend. We already depend on women as creative, engaged employees and leaders, and as essential partners in our supply chain and route to market. By creating and supporting opportunities for women in society and the economy, we have the possibility to grow our markets, brands and business.
Empowering women, empowering everyone
In the same way that women's empowerment connects all the SDGs, enhancing opportunities for women is a theme which runs across our entire Unilever Sustainable Living Plan – a link we underlined in our Opportunities for Women White Paper (PDF | 7MB).
Creating diverse and inclusive workplaces. Ensuring women and girls are safe, and their human rights are respected. Including more women financially, and supporting women farmers to farm more sustainably. Empowering women through our brands. Closing the gap in skills, including digital skills.
All these elements, and more, help drive our business. To achieve these aims, we need to understand the barriers that can hold women back, and find ways to overcome them. That means putting a gender lens on our programmes when we design and implement them.
This vision of a fair, inclusive business also extends beyond gender. As just one example, in 2018 we set ourselves ambitious commitments to be the number one employer of choice for people with disabilities, and to increase the number of employees with disabilities to 5% of our total workforce. We have committed to achieving these worldwide, by 2025 – thereby contributing to the five Sustainable Development Goals which explicitly reference disability.