Enhancing entrepreneurial & life skills through our brands
We’re harnessing the power of our brands to empower women and build their skills.
Building on our brand connections to empower women
Of the people who buy our products are women
Our brands play a huge part in delivering our overall business commitment to making sustainable living commonplace. And given that over 70% of our consumers are women, we see a great opportunity to harness our brands to help achieve one of the strongest themes of our Unilever Sustainable Living Plan - empowering women by challenging gender norms and enabling everyone to unlock their full potential.
Many of our brands are empowering and enabling women every day. Our Beauty and Personal Care brands have developed sustainable living purposes around building confidence and enabling access to skills and training. And brands in our Home Care Division are tackling inequality by helping to recognise the fact that unpaid domestic work is disproportionately done by women − and that helping reduce and redistribute the burden of household chores can unlock women’s time.
And, crucially, we do not want our brands to perpetuate unhelpful stereotypes about women – or men. Our #Unstereotype initiative is challenging us, and our marketing agencies, to portray women positively and progressively and avoid gender stereotypes. Our expansion of #Unstereotype – and our work in mobilising other businesses in this area – is described in Challenging harmful gender norms.
Empowering women is good for our business
We're building on the connection our brands have with women, on the reach and scale of our business, and on collaborations with a range of partners, through projects and initiatives that enable women to increase their skills and create new opportunities.
We believe that empowered women will help build stronger economies and fairer societies, which will be good for our business – and we want women to trust our brands to support them on their journey.
Dove's mission to increase confidence
Young people in 141 countries reached via Dove Self-Esteem Project
Body confidence and self-esteem matter: our research shows they can have an impact on the decisions people take and the way they act. In 2017, our Dove Global Beauty and Confidence report found that 5 in 10 women and 7 in 10 girls have not been assertive in their opinion or stuck to a decision, in part because of self-esteem about their looks.
Our Dove Self-Esteem Project helps young girls build body confidence and strengthen their self-worth. We’ve helped over 35 million young people across 141 countries with self-esteem education over 2005–2018. And we’re aiming to reach 40 million by 2020.
As part of this, Dove's partnership with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) has created a programme called Free Being Me, which helps boost body confidence and support children and young people to advocate body confidence issues in their community. This short film explains more about the Dove WAGGGS partnership.
Read more in Building body confidence & self-esteem.
TRESemmé: making presence count
Our TRESemmé haircare brand has investigated the impact of ‘presence’ and how it can help women succeed.
What is 'presence' − and why does it matter? For TRESemmé, presence is ‘the energy you exude when you put your best, most authentic self forward in how you look, speak and act’. In 2018, TRESemmé commissioned research involving more than 5,500 women aged 18−35 across Brazil, the UK and the US with the aim of defining, measuring and understanding the impact of presence on women’s lives.
The research was conducted in partnership with the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) and global research experts Edelman Intelligence. It explored the barriers that limit women's presence – as well as the drivers that enable and empower women to make their presence count in the moments that matter most. Among other findings, 85% of women surveyed said their presence makes them feel they can achieve more things and progress further in daily life.
In response to these findings, and in partnership with ICRW, TRESemmé has created The Presence MasterClass™. Developed over the past two years with advisers from around the world, it’s a free seven-part MasterClass designed to help women succeed in their lives, not just with their hair.
The Presence MasterClass™ launches first in the UK in May 2019. It will be delivered as a live three-day immersive course and available also as a free online course, equipping women with the tools to not only look their best, but to speak, act and engage in life with a true sense of presence.
Fair & Lovely: connecting women to opportunity
Full access to career guidance, education and skills that boost employability – these are all essential to empowering women. That's especially true where socio-cultural, infrastructural or economic barriers stand in women's way. Barriers such as gender stereotyping, safety concerns about studying outside the home or harmful norms about household responsibilities.
Our Fair & Lovely Career Foundation was set up in 2003 to bring to life the brand's mission to help women secure a better future through education. In 2017 it launched a mobile career and education platform to expand its reach.
Fair & Lovely Career Foundation: impact at scale
Career guidance. High quality education. They're vital elements to building a career − but in many places, cultural barriers mean they are not readily available to women.
The Fair & Lovely Career Foundation's mobile platform aims to change that. Launched in January 2017, it offers a curated selection of courses and resources on a mobile-friendly, online platform. The courses are chosen from well regarded, high-quality digital education providers such as edX.org (founded by Harvard and MIT), the IT skills training firm, NIIT Limited, and English Edge, an English language training specialist.
Over 2017−2018, over 200,000 career tests, 160,000 course enrolments and 20,000 course hours were facilitated through the platform. By the end of 2018 it had reached around 300,000 women and girls.
This work contributes to the following UN Sustainable Development Goal
Sunsilk: connecting young women to wider horizons
Adverse social norms mean girls and women across the globe often find themselves with fewer education and employment opportunities than boys and men. As a result, women and girls sometimes have a limited view of their own future, which can hold them back from realising their full potential.
Sunsilk is seeking to open up possibilities for young women through the idea of ‘horizon stretching’ – showing them that they have access to opportunities beyond those their immediate surroundings might provide.
In partnership with Girl Rising, Sunsilk has developed the Explore More Possibilities educational programme that encourages girls to imagine a new way forward, free from the constraints of limiting social constructs. The 3–12 week programme brings education materials aimed at inspiring young women into the classroom and providing exposure to a different kind of future.
In 2018, the programme launched in Thailand and Pakistan, reaching 500 young people. In 2019, it will be extended to Argentina, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam, with the aim of reaching 50,000 people.
Sunsilk has also worked with non-profit Plano de Menina to co-create the “#JuntasArrasamos” (#TogetherWeRock) programme in Brazil in 2017. Juntas Arrasamos’s digital and face-to-face programme covers topics such as personal development, self-esteem and personal finance and profiles aspirational role models as well as offering a support network.
Partnering with the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), in September 2019 Sunsilk also launched ‘Opening Up Possibilities for Girls (PDF | 4MB): A report on supporting young women on the journey to new horizons’ ahead of 11 October’s International Day of the Girl in New York. The paper examines why girls and young women need support in their adolescent years to break free from societal norms.
Connecting job seekers with the skills they need
Youth unemployment is one of the biggest paradoxes of modern times: even though more young people are going into tertiary education than ever before, they’re three times more likely to face unemployment than previous generations.
Of the world’s youth live in developing countries. 2/3 of them are jobless
This trend is particularly acute in developing countries, home to 85% of the world’s youth population – two-thirds of whom do not have a formal job. Millions of young people are seeking opportunities to better their lives by improving their employability and rising above social limitations. But they are often held back by a lack of confidence and skills to achieve the brighter future they seek.
In response, in 2015 our Radiant laundry brand launched its Academies of Shine in all its key markets. The Academies aim to upskill women and men and give them the confidence to shine.
Radiant, Rin, Brilhante, Omo & Surf
Radiant is also known as Rin, Brilhante, Omo and Surf, giving rise to programmes such as the Rin Career Ready Academy in India and Bangladesh, Escola Brilhante in Brazil, Omo Bright Future Academy in Thailand and the Surf School of Shine in South Africa. Each is tailored to the specific needs and culture of the country.
Through teaching livelihood skills, the Academies bring to life Radiant’s brand purpose of fostering social mobility: helping progress-seekers improve their employability and increase their income potential through the right skills, confidence and bright clothes. And they support the aims of Sustainable Development Goal 4 on Quality Education, particularly SDG 4.4 which seeks to increase the numbers of young people and adults who have relevant skills (including technical and vocational skills) for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship.
Academies of Shine
In Brazil, our Brilhante laundry brand found that 70% of women want to start their own business – as it’s seen as one of the best chances for women to provide for their children and pay for their education. But we also learnt that only 7% of women feel they have the confidence and skills to do so.
Fear of failure is a major cause of this hesitation. To combat this, we set up Escola Brilhante (The Academy of Shine), an online women's entrepreneurship programme which includes a micro-finance helpline. Women can learn business skills and build their confidence in as little as five minutes a day through free courses. By 2018, Escola Brilhante supported over 140,000 women. After the programme, 98% say they will start their own business – up from 74% before they started.
In India, the Rin Career Ready Academy connects new joiners with alumni, giving joiners the chance to practise English, be mentored or take part in career fairs. In rural areas, we tackled the lack of access to technology by delivering training through an interactive voice recorder that’s available via any feature phone. And to make the experience a more social one, we created a mobile conferencing facility so students can practise English by speaking to other participants and a teacher.
In Thailand, professions such as accountancy, engineering or medical services typically require advanced English-speaking skills. So Omo’s Bright Future Academy makes short, fun English language modules, which are accessible to aspiring Thais through YouTube and Facebook. Longer, in-depth modules are available on DVD, and are sold with packs of Omo. And we work with supermarket Tesco each year during back-to-school weeks to promote the programme in-store.
This is not only proving good for the people who enrol in the training, it’s good for business too. Radiant remains our fastest-growing laundry brand in very competitive markets. And we’ve seen particularly strong sales in the countries where the Academies are most advanced – Brazil, India and Thailand. In India, the number of people who see Rin as trustworthy is up by 19%, while in Brazil 90% would recommend Brilhante to others.
This work contributes to the following Sustainable Development Goal