Opportunities for women

This work supports the following UN Sustainable Development Goals

  • Quality Education
  • Gender Equality
  • Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • Reduced Inequalities
  • Partnership For The Goals
  1. Home
  2. ...
  3. Opportunities for women
  4. Enhancing entrepreneurial & life skills through our brands

Enhancing entrepreneurial & life skills through our brands

We’re harnessing the power of our brands to empower women and build their skills.

Entrepreneurial women

Building on our brand connections to empower women

Woman with basket icon
>70%

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. Given that over 70% of our consumers are women, we need our brands to engage with them in meaningful ways.

Many of our brands are empowering and enabling women every day. Our Beauty & Personal Care brands have developed sustainable living purposes that help women and girls unlock their potential by building confidence and enabling access to skills and training. And some brands in our Home Care Division are aiming to help to recognise, reduce and redistribute the burden of household chores and unlock women’s time.

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.

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 in 2017 – and our work in mobilising other businesses in this area – is described in Challenging harmful gender norms.

Spotlight

Baiqu Gonkar

Pond's & Vital Voices: dare to change the world

Around the world, women are finding innovative ways to tackle the social, human rights and environmental challenges that face every society. They're daring to make a difference through their values – often in the face of adversity – and we want to strengthen and inspire them.

That's why in 2017, Pond’s partnered with the women’s organisation Vital Voices to launch a leadership skills-based fellowship programme. It aims to encourage women to grow and lead with values which challenge the conventional definitions of strength. The VVLead Fellowship aims to equip the next generation of changemakers with the skills and confidence to lead with a new vision of strength.

The curriculum is built around research that shows the qualities of a modern leader include vulnerability, empathy, collaboration, flexibility and patience. While such values have not traditionally been associated with leadership, they have been shown to be key to leading effectively.1

In its first year, 50 female leaders of mission-driven companies and organisations have participated in the Fellowship, benefiting from webinars, forum discussions, in-person summits and virtual mentorship to grow the participants’ initiatives.

Baiqu Gonkar, from Art Represent in the UK, described the Fellowship's first global summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, in June 2017. "I felt empowered, connected and motivated. We can only do so much alone; in order to drive real change in the world, we have to find allies and work together. Since our meeting, all the fellows and ambassadors have kept in touch. What’s more, we’re working together to drive the change we wish to see in the world.”

Read more about the Vital Voices Fellows.

Dove's mission to increase confidence

globe icon
29m

Young people in 140 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 have helped around 29 million young people across 140 countries with self-esteem education over 2005-2017. 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 young girls see that their opinions and views matter and can make a difference. This short film explains more about the Dove WAGGGS partnership.

Key findings from the 2017 Dove Global Girls Beauty and Confidence Report

When girls don’t feel good about the way they look

8 in 10: Avoid seeing friends and family or trying out for a team or club

7 in 10: Stop themselves from eating or otherwise put their health at risk

7 in 10: Will not be assertive in their opinion or stick to their decision

Read more in Building body confidence & self-esteem.

Connecting job seekers with the skills they need

globe icon
85%

Of the world’s youth live in developing countries. 2/3 of them are jobless

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.

This trend is particularly acute in developing countries, home to 85% of the world’s youth population2 – two-thirds of whom do not have a formal job. There is a widening gulf separating what employers need and what’s available in the market.

Simply put, the skills and knowledge young people are working so hard to gain aren’t enough to secure a 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 people and give them the confidence to shine.

Through teaching these 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.

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.

Spotlight

Academy of Brillhante

Academies of Shine in action

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. In 2017, Escola Brilhante supported nearly 35,000 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, which are not common. 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.

But it’s not only our Home Care brands that are helping women develop their careers. A number of our Beauty and Personal Care brands are looking at how they can connect women to new horizons too.

TRESemmé: connecting millennials to career advice

In 2016 and 2017, our hair care brand TRESemmé partnered with LEVO, the fastest-growing network for millennials in the workplace. LEVO provides young professionals with the resources to help them navigate and advance their careers. Through this partnership, TRESemmé has democratised the tools and resources to help millennial women equip themselves with ‘presence’ in the workplace.

TRESemmé co-created resources in collaboration with industry experts, offering them free of charge to women around the world via the LEVO website. In addition, through our partnership with LEVO, we ran offline workshops and seminars across the US, UK and Canada. These enabled working millennial women to access the networks and support systems they need to sustain their professional presence as they move ahead in their careers.

TRESemmé is also partnering with TIME Inc and Marie Claire in the UK in 2018 to give readers the hints and tips to make their presence count and #BeYourOwnPro. The partnership will reach around 3.5 million women across the UK through Marie Claire’s print and online platforms.

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 Foundation's Online Training initiative aims to overcome many of these barriers by improving access to quality career guidance, education and skills – delivered to women through their mobile phones.

It was launched in January 2017 to offer 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 (which was founded by Harvard and MIT). The platform is designed to help women discover the potential of online education and encourage them to enrol in a career guidance module and online courses. In its first nine months, around 76,000 women had registered on the Fair & Lovely Foundation website.

Sunsilk: connecting young women to wider horizons

In Brazil, Sunsilk has taken a similar approach and 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.

Due to adverse social norms, often girls and women find themselves with fewer education and employment opportunities than boys and men. This means that women and girls sometimes have a limited view of their own future, which can hold them back from realising their full potential.  This is particularly true for girls from the Brazil’s favelas (slums). 

In 2017, Sunsilk put this thinking into action in a new partnership with non-profit Plano de Menina, where we co-created the “#JuntasArrasamos” (#TogetherWeRock) programme. This pilot programme aims to build a sisterhood between girls to support each other as they think about expanding their horizons through inspiration and tools.

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.

Dermalogica: connecting women to financial independence

FITE – Financial Independence Through Entrepreneurship – helps women entrepreneurs start or grow a business by giving them access to education and skills.

FITE was started in 2010 by the founder of skincare brand Dermalogica, Jane Wurwand. Since then, it has helped support over 90,000 women to start and grow businesses and given scholarships to over 40 girls – who are the first in their family to attend school – across 10 emerging countries.

In 2017, the programme ran the first FITE Entrepreneur Accelerator, with an online course for salon entrepreneurs to fill the business skills gap in the beauty salon industry. Co-created with Santa Monica College in the US, the web-based learning platform and community offers a comprehensive curriculum to help take their business to scale. It’s available free of charge for the industry by application. See FITE to find out more and hear the stories of some of its entrepreneurs.

1 The Athena Doctrine: How Women (and the Men Who Think Like Them) Will Rule the Future

2http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/publications/publications-a-z/455-youth-and-the-state-of-the-world

Back to top

CONNECT WITH US

We're always looking to connect with those who share an interest in a sustainable future.

CONTACT US

Get in touch with Unilever PLC and specialist teams in our headquarters, or find contacts around the world.

Contact us