Friday, June 19th is Juneteenth—a historic day that marks the ending of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers delivered the news to Galveston, Texas, that the Civil War was over and enslaved Africans were free. Texas was the last state to be informed that slavery had been abolished, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.
Juneteenth is a day to reflect on the struggles and triumphs of the African American community both historically and today. As a company committed to taking action and using our influence to end systemic racism and social injustice, we are focusing this Juneteenth on supporting our Black employees and engaging all of our employees to be allies and advocates for change.
Learning and Understanding on Juneteenth and beyond
To uphold our responsibility for racial justice, we need to continue to initiate change from within our own organization.
On Juneteenth, Unilever will be taking the opportunity to drive open, honest conversations and to support our Black employees by offering several opportunities for our people to learn more about Juneteenth and its significance, as well as the experience of the Black community in the United States.
This includes an open discussion on systemic racism and Black identity in the U.S., and a review of specific actions our brands are taking to stand up against racism in this country. We’re also hosting a Healing Circle for our employees who identify as Black—a session with clinical psychologist Dr. Linda McGhee, which will aim to create a safe space for participants to share openly.
Dedicating Juneteenth to open conversations around race is an important step in continuing our work to ensure our workplaces reflect the diverse communities we serve. This builds on work Unilever U.S. has been doing for years to build an inclusive culture, including company-wide unconscious bias trainings and cultural competency trainings. We also believe that cultural understanding comes from better understanding the experience of communities in America, and we’ve done internal trainings to address the Black experiences in America as well as the experiences of LatinX, LGBTQia, and Muslim communities.
Unilever U.S. Actions for Racial Justice
Earlier this month, we addressed our need to do more both within and outside the Unilever ecosystem to use our economic power for good and help tackle the root causes of social injustice. We announced we are starting with five focus areas:
- $7 million+ pledged to organizations and activists working for social justice and racial equality. This includes commitments from Unilever and our brands such as Shea Moisture, AXE, TAZO, Seventh Generation, Degree, Dove, Dove Men+Care, POND'S, Noxzema, St. Ives, Simple, AHC, Love Beauty and Planet, Magnum, Tresemme, and Vaseline.
- Increasing our spend with diverse suppliers
- Ensuring the diversity of our workforce fully reflects the communities we serve
- Upholding a zero-tolerance policy on intolerance – both among Unilever employees and the suppliers, customers and partners that work with us
- Adding our voice and influence to advocate for safe and fair access to voting this November
Progress on Employee Diversity
As part of our commitment to ensure the diversity of our workforce fully reflects the communities we serve, we recently shared information about the diversity of our U.S. Leadership Team and our U.S. corporate employees. We’re proud that 42% of our U.S. Leadership Team identify as people of color. Seventeen (17) percent identify as Black. Of our U.S. corporate employees, 30% identify as people of color. Eight (8) percent identify as Black. And more than 50% identify as women.
There is much more for us to do, and we continue to be committed to building an inclusive culture and a more diverse workforce. We are dedicated to fostering a culture that denounces racism and intolerance and promotes diversity and equal opportunity. These values are the foundation of our business.
Safe and Fair Access to Voting
One of our commitments is to add our voice and influence to advocate for safe and fair access to voting this November. Unilever, along with our brands Ben & Jerry’s and Seventh Generation, is backing Vote Safe 2020. As a business committed to inclusion, we are calling on Congress to ensure in-person voting this November will be safe for all and to encourage expanding availability of vote-by-mail.
There has never been a more important moment to make sure the voices of our employees and all those in our communities are heard. We are working to build support from other businesses and brands to influence Congress to act. We believe this effort can help protect the health of our employees and communities, and protect everyone’s right to make their own choices and cast their votes on Election Day.
Unilever Joins Dove in Expanded CROWN Coalition
In early 2019, Dove, the National Urban League, Color Of Change, and the Center for Western Law and Poverty co-founded The CROWN Coalition to successfully advocate for new state laws that provide protection from race-based hair discrimination.
Unilever is now joining Dove as part of an expanded CROWN (Creating a Respectful & Open World with No Racism) Coalition that will continue to advocate for a national law to protect against hair discrimination, and to take actions in several additional areas: reducing systemic bias and discrimination, reimagining public safety, supporting voting access, and driving economic equity. To learn more, visit Dove.com.
Brands Step Up
Many of our brands have a rich history of championing and supporting Black communities. For years, Ben & Jerry’s has been at the forefront of fighting for social justice, in particular criminal justice reform and voting access for the African American community. Dove has supported anti-racism efforts through its work with the CROWN Coalition and legislation it has helped pass in several states to protect against hair discrimination. SheaMoisture has a strong commitment to women of color entrepreneurs through its partnership with the New Voices Fund, which included a $20 million contribution from Unilever with the acquisition of Sundial Brands.
In response to the death of George Floyd, brands across the Unilever portfolio are stepping up to lend their voice and influence to support racial justice.
- This Father’s Day, Dove Men+Care honors the men who were taken too soon with #FathersDayTaken, a fundraising initiative that remembers the thousands of Black dads who have lost their lives due to racism and violence. Join us at FathersDayTaken.com to make a donation to benefit the families left behind, and send a Father’s Day Card in their honor.
- Dove is creating the new CROWN Fund in the U.S. and pledging $5M of ongoing support to drive change in an effort to eliminate systemic racism and discrimination that disproportionately impacts Black lives.
- Shea Moisture is continuing its commitment to support communities of color by investing $100K in activities working toward social change through its Social Justice Coalition.
- Ben & Jerry’s is building on its history of supporting social justice by using its voice to advocate for legislative change.
- TRESemmé is creating an annual tuition fund for aspiring Black hairstylists in addition to commitments around increasing representation in the fashion and beauty industry, which is an ongoing problem.
- Love Beauty & Planet is donating $100K to the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program that helps tackle climate policies and practices that disproportionately affect Black and other marginalized communities. The brand’s forthcoming grants program will also support environmental changemakers of color.
More to do
These actions are just the beginning. At Unilever U.S., we recognize that making real change to address systemic racism will require a long-term, multi-faceted approach, and we are willing to do the work. By engaging our employees, using the influence of our company and our brands to advocate for change, and investing in activist organizations, we plan to live up to our responsibilities to work for equity and advancement for the Black community.