Opportunities for women
We want to help create a world in which every woman and girl can create the kind of life she wishes to lead, unconstrained by harmful norms and stereotypes. We believe a world where women are economically empowered will be a fairer, happier and more prosperous place to live for everybody – and that our business will flourish in it.
Changing the norms & closing the gender gap
At the current rate of progress, women will have to wait 108 years to close the gender gap with men. Despite advances in some areas over the last decade, this wait is showing few signs of shrinking fast. The annual World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report, published in December 2018, found that the most challenging gender gap remains in the economic sphere, which the report found will take 202 years to close.
This wait is unacceptable – for current and future generations of women and girls, and for the societies and economies of which they and our business are a part.
We want our business to be a leading force in closing the gender gap, and to challenge and change the harmful norms and stereotypes that are a barrier to women’s economic empowerment – and the norms and stereotypes of masculinity that confine men too.
Empowering women can transform the world
Empowering women will transform individual lives, societies − and our business. It’s essential to the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Empowering women and girls is the focus of SDG 5, Achieving Gender Equality. But, like the need to work in partnership (SDG 17), women’s empowerment is a thread that stitches all the SDGs together. In particular, it underpins the SDGs that aim to improve access to skills and employment and the resulting economic empowerment this brings. In short, as Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women has said: "If we fail to tackle gender inequality, the rest of the goals are likely to fail too."
Our business, too, will be transformed by empowering women. Women are over 70% of our consumer base, 50% of the talent pool from whom we recruit our workforce, and play critical roles in our supply chain and in enabling us to reach consumers with our products. By creating and supporting opportunities for women in society and the economy, we have the possibility to grow our markets, brands and business.
We’ve extended our thinking to the barriers facing people living with disability (or diffability, which describes the differently-abled). In 2018, we set ourselves ambitious commitments to achieve worldwide by 2025: to be the number one employer of choice for people with diffabilities, and to increase the number of employees with diffabilities to 5% of our total workforce. This gets to the heart of the ambition to ‘leave no one behind’ – and could contribute to the five Sustainable Development Goals which explicitly reference disability and to the wider sustainable development agenda.
So in the same way that women's empowerment connects all the SDGs, enhancing opportunities for women is a theme which runs across our entire Unilever Sustainable Living Plan – a link we underlined in our Opportunities for Women White Paper (PDF | 7MB).