There is a clear moral case for greater female inclusion, opportunity and empowerment. Empowering women is not only the right thing to do, it also makes good business sense. The inclusion of women in the economic cycle has a magnifying positive impact on the growth of the economy, and particularly for Unilever, where women represent 70 per cent of our customer base and a significant proportion of our workforce. As such, it’s important our business reflects the needs and experiences of the people we serve.
In Australia and New Zealand, we’ve made significant progress in creating a gender-balanced and inclusive organisation. In Australia, women make up 56.6% of our local workforce and 51.8% of management positions. We continue to focus on improving our balance in key areas of our business such as Supply Chain and Sales and on our local executive leadership team.
Unilever is deeply invested in promoting gender equality in Australian and New Zealand workplaces and believes business can play an important role in creating a fairer, better and more equal world.
At Unilever we also believe in paying for performance with clear reward policies and have a longstanding commitment to equal pay for equal work. Our compensation structures are intended to be gender neutral, with any pay differences between employees in similar jobs fairly reflecting levels of individual performance and skill.
We are a proud Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) Employer of Choice for Gender Equality (EOCGE) citation holder for 2017-18 and 2018-19.
The citation recognises employer commitment and best practice in promoting gender equality in Australian workplaces. Particular focus areas include leadership, learning and development, gender remuneration gaps, flexible working and other initiatives to support family responsibilities, employee consultation, preventing sex-based harassment and discrimination, and targets for improving gender equality outcomes.
Unilever Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) CEO, Clive Stiff says: “The citation is a reflection of our progress in driving change in our own organisation, as well as playing a key leadership role to promote gender equality across the industry and in the wider community.
“Empowering women is not only the right thing to do, but also makes good business sense. Leadership and accountability are essential if real progress is to be made, which is why we are remain committed to building a balanced and inclusive organisation.”
Last year we were also recognised as having the Best Workplace D&I Program at the Australian HR Awards.
One way we are addressing gender balance is through our flexible working policy which enables our people to balance their personal commitments and work in a way that meets both their needs and the needs of the business.
In 2016 we declared ‘all roles flex’ and are focusing on normalising flexible working for men – key to managing caring responsibilities and empowering women. Paul Connell, Marketing Director and a member of our Australia and New Zealand Leadership Team ANZ Board Member, explains that “equality is everyone’s job and we need to put in place the right policies to support this because we’re all better off with an engaged and diverse workforce.”
We are also unlocking job share opportunities across our business, allowing our people to balance personal commitments or their own businesses alongside their career at Unilever. Emma Peacock, Director Sustainable Business & Communications and member of our Leadership Team and Diversity and Inclusion Board explains –
“I’ve seen firsthand how making our workplace flexible is a huge benefit for both women and men who want to progress their career at the same time as being really involved in their family life. I’ve been lucky enough to have had my two lovely children whilst working at Unilever over the past seven years and have taken up a variety of flexible working options to help juggle it all including working 4 day weeks, working from home regularly and flexible hours. Flexible working has allowed me to progress to a leadership position while balancing the needs of my family.”
Increased engagement and productivity, greater retention and fewer sick days since embracing a flexible working culture has resulted in approximately $6 million per annum in cost savings for our local business.
Building a gender balanced and inclusive business means supporting expecting mothers and fathers as they transition to parenthood. Our Maternity and Paternity Support program (MAPS) offers support, advice and guidance during this exciting time and allow our people to stay in touch with their team and the business through Parent’s Club.
We also encourage flexible working for parents returning to work at our manufacturing sites, redesigning roles to allow for new permanent casual positions, and are rolling out infrastructure to support mums returning from parental leave. At our Tatura site, we have a Mother’s Room which allows women to continue breastfeeding once they’ve returned to work. Bernadette Woodcock, Technology and Innovation Engineer at Tatura describes her experience.
“During my maternity leave, my manager kept in regular contact and they were very supportive and receptive with finding a way for me to return to work which worked best for me and the business. This evolved into me returning a few days a week for a month, while I eased myself and family back into a routine, and then I returned to my prior flexible working arrangement of 4 days.
“There is always more to do in this space and I look forward to the day when my experience is a universal one.”
Earlier this year we announced a new superannuation policy to play our part in addressing financial security and the wealth gap at retirement. With a recent report showing that the average super balance for women is 59.1% of the male average, our new policy ensures a more balanced and inclusive workplace.
There is a clear moral, economic and business case for this. It ensures that parents taking primary carers leave, who are still predominantly women, can continue accruing superannuation and build long-term financial security. A more robust superannuation policy creates more purchasing power in the economy and eases the burden on the public pension system, while the policy also helps us to attract and retain top talent.
The policy offers both male and female employees up to 52 weeks of superannuation during primary carers leave. On top of our previous policy which saw employees receive 16 weeks paid leave including super, employees are now be entitled to superannuation on unpaid leave of up to another 36 weeks and also includes three weeks of fully paid secondary carers leave.
Find out more about our new policy and how we’re promoting gender equality across our business.
Our Australian and New Zealand CEO, Clive Stiff is a member of the Male Champions of Change group and shares why he’s personally committed to building a gender equal business.
“As a father of two daughters and a son, I’m personally passionate about achieving gender equality and creating a world where each of them can thrive and reach their full potential. That’s why I joined Male Champions of Change, an initiative that brings together men in positions of influence to help increase the representation of women in leadership positions across Australia.
“Stepping up beside women to drive change is not only the right thing to do but it also makes good business sense.”
Clive sat down with Elizabeth Broderick, Former Sex Discrimination Commissioner and Founder of Male Champions of Change to talk about what we need to do to make gender equality commonplace. In the video Elizabeth explains why the role of business is critical in empowering women and Clive shares how at Unilever we’re working to create a better, fairer and more equal world.
Find out more about how we’re working with Male Champions of Change to eliminate everyday sexism, close the gender pay gap and participating in leadership shadowing to help leaders listen, learn and lead by understanding the impact of their personal actions and unconscious biases.
Domestic and family violence is a significant issue in our nation and one that we can’t ignore.
Statistics surrounding domestic and non-physical abuse bring to light how prevalent violence against women in Australia is and key findings regularly show how violence against women impact the home, workplace and wider community.
Domestic and Family Violence is also a workplace issue. A recent White Ribbon survey confirmed that 94% of employees agree employers should take a leadership role in education their workforce about respectful relationships between men and women. It is clear that domestic violence reduces and employee’s ability to perform tasks in the workplace and employees have a responsibility and opportunity to support victim and their family members.
In 2016, Unilever launched our “Victim of Domestic and Family Violence and other Crimes” Policy to support employees affected by violence and help break the social stigma around this issue. Last year we also rolled out line manager training to more than 150 of our people as part of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, a global campaign marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
We believe that workplace can play an important role in talking Domestic Violence – we want all our employees to feel safe, supported and able to bring their while selves to work.