This week, Unilever, one of the biggest manufacturers of consumer goods globally, announced that they had ‘achieved gender balance across management globally’.
The report, shared on the Unilever website, states that the company now has 50% women at management level in all their subsidiaries across the globe, while its non-executive board has 45% women.
“Having a gender-balanced workforce should be a given, not something we aspire to,” said Unilever’s Chief Executive Officer Alan Jope.
Unilever had set a target to have just as many women as men sitting in managerial positions and they announced that they had achieved this a year earlier than their intended date.
In 2010, the company had 38% women in management positions globally. As of the time of publication, Unilever has 50% women in finance, 47% in operations and technology and 40% in supply chain.
“A thriving society is one where women have equal access to rights, skills and opportunities,” said Leena Nair, Unilever Chief HR Officer. “Women constitute the majority of our consumers and we owe a lot of our success to them.”
To achieve gender equality in the workplace, Unilever formed a Global Diversity Board and a Diversity & Inclusion team whose sole task was to ensure that the company hired just as many women as men. Some of the tools they are using to meet this goal include monitoring how many women senior management hire and having a gender-balanced interview slate.
“We’re very proud to have reached our goal of equal representation of women and men among our 14, 000 managers,” Jope commented. “We will continue to work towards equal opportunities for women and other under-represented groups both within our business, and beyond.”
Gender inequality in the workplace, particularly in managerial positions, has been a major issue not only in Kenya but around the world. Although the Constitution of Kenya requires Government and state corporations to have a one-third gender representation, the public and private sectors are still lagging behind in equal gender representation in key managerial and board positions. For instance, a report on gender equality in the workplace by the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE), Equileap and New Faces New Voices stated that in spite of the number of women in senior management and total workforce is higher than the world average, it's still at a low with slightly more than a quarter of these positions being held by women.