Three women leaders driving the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan
To celebrate International Women’s Day, we’re highlighting the women working every day to bring our guiding blueprint to life.
My advice to women is to find your reason you want to be at work and then give it your all. It’s incredibly rewarding.
Stefanie Millie Grant
Hopefully my daughter can learn from what I’ve done and have some of the same values.
Be a leader in your own sphere and advocate for the changes you want to see.
As a company, we’ve got lots of goals, from improving health to reducing our environmental impact, all while enhancing livelihoods. It’s all a part of our ambitious blueprint, the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, and it would all be impossible without the people who help us bring this plan to life.
This month for International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating all women leaders, but especially this trio of Unilever employees who are making this plan a reality in Midwestern fields, faraway deserts, and bathroom cabinets across the country.
Sharing the power of healing
As the Director of the Vaseline® brand, Kathleen Dunlop saw an interesting article by dermatologists who visited a refugee camp in Syria. Since they frequently mentioned Vaseline® as a necessary item, Kathleen saw a way for that brand not just to nourish skin, but help serve our mission, and so the Vaseline® Healing Project was born.
Cracked skin – especially on the feet – is a common health issue among refugees, which ultimately prevents many from being able to walk easily or find jobs.
Partnering with Direct Relief, the Vaseline® brand has donated product to help heal the skin of thousands of refugees in more than 70 countries. Throughout this humanitarian work, Kathleen says her kids motivate her to do even more:
“With three kids it tempting to say ‘they need me at home’. But two of those children are daughters, and I want to be a good role model for them. I’m wanting them to achieve, so I feel like I’d be a bit of a hypocrite if I weren’t doing something that I loved every day.”
She’s used this motivation to make sure our brands help people in need all over the globe, and wants a similarly fulfilling future for her daughters: “My advice to women is to find your reason you want to be at work and then give it your all. It’s incredibly rewarding.”
One mom-to-be transforms farming
Growing up in a farming community in Iowa, Stefanie Grant jumped at the opportunity to return to her roots and lead a sustainable agriculture program there: “My dad always made sure I always spent a few weeks on my aunt and uncle’s farm because he wanted me to ‘know where I came from’.”
Now as Senior Manager, External Affairs and Sustainability for Unilever, she’s helped vastly expand the Hellmann’s® sustainable soybean operation there by adding family farmers and fostering sustainable practices like using less fertilizer. Her work has gone from a project to a passion, which Stefanie finds especially important as an expectant mother, “Hopefully my daughter can learn from what I’ve done and have some of the same values.”
Parenting and packaging improvements
Historically, product packaging was designed only for functionality without considering its disposal. It’s Julie Zaniewski’s mission to change that as our Packaging Sustainability Manager.
“My children understand how my work can improve life for future generations, so they enjoy learning about sustainability…This continues to be a journey I can take them on and that is pure motivation,” she says.
Her daughter and son are also able to “readily identify what they want to improve for their generation,” and Julie thinks everyone can follow this lead in working towards gender equality:
“Be a leader in your own sphere and advocate for the changes you want to see.”
Equality for all
We rely on these women, and countless others, to achieve our sustainability and social impact goals. On International Women’s Day, we thank each these women for their amazing work. We also encourage you to take the pledge for gender equality, and remember the amazing contributions women are making in the business world -- and everywhere else – every day.