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Developing & engaging our people

We are creating an organisation and culture where our employees are empowered to act like entrepreneurs and business owners.

Group of people in a meeting

Unilever employs around 161,000 people. We are helping them people develop new skills, new ways of working and new entrepreneurial leadership qualities within a culture that values diversity in all its forms. In turn this helps us attract and retain the best talent which is vital to accelerate long-term value creation.

The changing workplace

The macro forces described on page 8 of our Annual Report & Accounts have a fundamental impact on the workplace. Competition for talent is intensifying. The workforce is increasingly freelance and a job for life is no longer the norm. Once employed, people require continuous learning to reinvent themselves and they expect more flexibility in working practices.

The growth of artificial intelligence and robotics is disrupting work in ways that are still being understood. Anxiety at work is on the rise and the composition of the workforce is changing. Millennials will be 60% of Unilever’s own workforce by 2020. At the same time the workforce is ageing and five generations may be working together in the same company in the 18-80 workforce. In short, a one-size-fits-all human resource strategy no longer works.

Our strategic approach to managing our workforce is: more simple, more human, more impact. We want to reduce complexity, understand our people as individuals, not by job titles or work levels, and personalise interventions to build the right leaders and teams. We are taking action across a number of areas to make this happen.

Developing an owner's mindset

C4G, our largest organisational change programme in more than a decade, was fully implemented during 2017 with the benefits to be realised progressively during 2018 and 2019. C4G encourages and equips people to adopt an owner’s mindset by giving them more control through a simplified organisational and reward structure.

An owner’s mindset means more ownership and collaboration, clarity of purpose, more test and learn, embracing failure to gain insight, and an obsession with customers and consumers – ultimately driving long term value creation and financial rewards for our employees. This mindset hands teams in local markets responsibility for business results. They are encouraged to treat resources as if they were their own, helping ensure we maintain the highest levels of efficiency.

Our C4G programme is the platform through which people are now empowered to deploy our zero-based budgeting approach to allocating resources and our 5S programme of supply chain margin improvement. This drives simplification, partnerships with third parties, and smarter pricing policies in our channels. Part of developing an owner’s mindset, and coping with the quicker pace of change in our markets, is adopting an ‘always on’ learning culture. Learning and building capability is critical in a hyper-connected world.

In 2017, we launched 'My Learning' powered by Degreed, a social learning platform with a daily feed of materials customised to individual profiles, combining Unilever content with external sources including TED Talks and MIT.


Group of people in discussion

Linking reward to long-term sustainability performance

Behavioural change requires the right incentives. For 2,872 senior management employees, incentives have been simplified to include fixed pay, a bonus as a percentage of fixed pay and a long-term management co-investment plan (MCIP) linked to financial and sustainability performance. The sustainability dimension is based on progress against our USLP targets. In addition, the long-term MCIP will be rolled out to the remainder of management employees in 2018. For non-management employees, we have a share purchase scheme so that everyone can have a stake in Unilever’s long-term success.

See our Annual Report & Accounts for more details on how MCIP works

Gender diversity & inclusion

We are developing an inclusive culture, promoting gender balance and respecting the contribution of all employees regardless of gender, age, race, disability or sexual orientation. Consistent with our Code Policy (PDF | 5MB) on Respect, Dignity & Fair Treatment, Unilever aims to ensure that applications for employment from everyone are given full and fair consideration and that everyone is given access to training, development and career opportunities.

The USLP sets out clear targets for expanding opportunities and enhancing access to skills and training for women in our value chain. It also sets out our ambition to build a gender-balanced workforce within Unilever, with 50% of women in management positions by 2020. Our Opportunities for Women white paper (PDF | 7MB), published in 2017, contains more details on these targets.

We run programmes across Unilever aimed at attracting, retaining and developing female talent. This includes developing candidates for potential future roles, maintaining balanced slates, and practical help such as a minimum 16 weeks’ paid maternity leave as a global standard – more than the regulatory requirement in over 50% of countries where we operate.

Pay and overall reward is intended to be gender neutral, with any differences between employees in similar jobs reflecting performance and skill. Unilever has a long-standing commitment to gender equality and fairness in the workplace based on equal pay for equal work and achieving greater gender balance, particularly at management levels. Gender pay gaps develop where there is a representational imbalance between genders. Our Framework for Fair Compensation reviews average pay differences between genders at each work level.

By the end of 2017, 47% of total management were women, up from 46% in 2016. Among the top 93 executives, 22% were women (22% in 2016). Including employees who are statutory directors of the corporate entities whose financial information is included in the Group’s 2017 Annual Report & Accounts, the number increases to 510 males and 192 (27%) females. 38% (five out of 13) of the Board is female, compared with 43% (six out of 14) in 2016. Of our total workforce of 160,566, 107,064 (67%) were male and 53,502 (33%) were female at the end of 2017.

Our Human Resources metrics

We track a large number of HR related data to better understand our workforce. Some of this information for the 1st January – 31st December for 2015-2017 can be found in Unilever HR Metrics (PDF | 83KB). As some workforce data is classed as sensitive, we do not report publicly on this.

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