1. Home
  2. ...
  3. Our Stories
  4. Gender Equality from the Ground Up

Gender Equality from the Ground Up

Equal pay and treatment for men and women can create endless opportunity. That’s why gender equality is a business priority for us.

Family lying on the ground, smiling

I don’t think you can create a high-performing organization if everybody doesn’t have the chance to rise to their full potential.

Paul Polman

The good news for equality is that the World Economic Forum predicts women will eventually receive pay equal to their male counterparts. The really bad news? This isn’t expected to happen until 2133. That’s 117 years from now.

At Unilever, we pride ourselves for being a catalyst for gender equality, and we’ve taken several steps to make it a reality – much sooner than 117 years from now. We can’t wait that long. The world can’t wait that long.

At the 2015 World Economic Forum, our CEO Paul Polman spoke about why gender equality is essential to our business, saying:

“I don’t think you can create a high-performing organization if everybody doesn’t have the chance to rise to their full potential.”

With committed leadership, and by creating opportunities for women as a key part of our business plan, it’s no surprise Unilever has committed to empowering 5 million women by 2020 through expanding training and opportunities.

Our Plan, Our Progress

Gender equality in the workplace is extremely important, and we’re proud to have been recognized on the “Working Mother 100 Best Companies” list for multiple years.

But our workplace extends well beyond office desks. Women make up an integral part of our operations from sustainably growing our crops like Lipton® Tea, to distributing our products, to running essential parts of our business. Here’s a look at our actions and accomplishments:

  • Our CEO Paul Polman is a Corporate Impact Champion of HeForShe, a leading voice in encouraging men and women to work toward gender equality.
  • The Dove® Self-Esteem Project is helping young women realize and reach their full potential by boosting their confidence, as well as Dove® social messages, such as sketches.
  • We have trained 70,000 female micro-entrepreneurs in India through Project Shakt (PDF | 599KB)i.
  • For International Women’s Day, we are highlighting women leaders throughout Unilever like Julie Zaniewski, Packaging Sustainability Manager and Stefanie Grant, Senior Manager of External Affairs and Sustainability.

We’re off to a great start, but it is important to remember why there’s more to be done.

Still A Way To Go

We know gender equality is not predicted for more than 100 years, but where are we now?

  • Globally, women do about 2/3 of the world’s work, but receive only 10% of the world’s income.
  • In the U.S., women earn only 78% as much as men -- and inequality may be getting worse.
  • More than 50% of women working are in vulnerable jobs and lack protection.

What’s more, women often face discrimination in the workplace, sometimes because of pregnancies.

A Path Forward

Gender equality doesn’t just help women feel empowered, it helps entire communities – especially since we know that women reinvest 90% of their income into their families.

It also means progress in health, education, and safety — meaning gender equality is not just about women’s rights, but human rights. We hope that you join us in the effort to reach gender equality, so together we can make this a reality much sooner than 2133.  Join our commitment to equality by taking this pledge, and by working towards equality every day.

Back to top