Unilever Awarded Diversity Prize

Written by BCCJ
June 13, 2012

Written by BCCJ
June 13, 2012

On June 8, Unilever Japan was presented with a 2012 Toyo Keizai Diversity Management Award for its exceptional commitment to gender diversity.

The Gender Diversity Prize is awarded to companies which successfully initiate and implement programmes that allow female managers to be promoted within the organisation. Unilever Japan was recognised for its commitment to global gender diversity initiatives – designed to create a workplace where female managers feel respected and able to give their best performance – as well as its leading contribution to Diversity Management in Japan.

Seikei Itoh of Unilever Japan says: “For Unilever, diversity is not an ethical right nor moral obligation; rather it is a key to better serve consumers, attract and develop the best talent, and ultimately achieve our ambitions to double the size of our business while reducing environmental impact”. He goes on, “As a part of our growth strategy, Unilever aims to further improve gender balancing in the management level. Close to 80% of Unilever consumers worldwide are women. We are working to better reflect internally the consumers we represent externally. Our global target is to raise the proportion of female management to 25% of the president of operating companies, 35% of the board, 50% of directors and managers by 2015. In Japan, our target is to raise the proportion of female management to 40% of directors and managers by 2015”.

Unilever’s Code of Business Principles states that the company should recruit, employ and promote employees based solely on qualifications and abilities. Itoh explains, “We do not take affirmative actions. Instead, we have developed innovative programmes to support our employees in their career development and progression. The programmes consist of agile working practices, mentoring programmes, networking, and developing an inclusive working environment. Recent initiatives in Japan include work-at-home system, couple counseling, mentoring programmes for female manager/director candidates, internal networking for working mothers, and a recruiting campaign for female students in the science and technology majors”.

As a result of Unilever’s long-term commitment to and new initiatives for diversity, as of April 2012, 26% of directors and managers in Japan were women. This proportion is well ahead of 8%, the average in Japan* and bodes well for the company’s targets for 2015. To further promote diversity, Unilever will seek to work with others – governments, other business and groups – to allow more flexibility and work-life balance in society. Itoh explains, “We call on others to join us on the journey”.

About Unilever

Unilever is one of the world’s leading consumer goods companies. On any given day, two billion consumers across 190 countries use a Unilever brand. Unilever has more than 171,000 employees, and, in 2011, generated annual sales of €46.5 billion. The company portfolio includes some of the world’s best-known and most-loved brands including Dove, Lux, Pond’s, Lipton, and AXE.

About the Toyo Keizai Gender Diversity Prize:

First Issued in 1895, Toyo Keizai is one of the most influential business magazines in Japan. The Toyo Keizai Diversity Management Award recognizes companies which embed diversity management in their corporate visions and a take progressive approach to equal opportunities. The Gender Diversity prize is awarded to companies with excellent vision, unique programmes, and tangible implementation for female development.

* The proportion of female managers and directors in companies in Japan.
Source: Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare in Japan, Basic Report of Equal Employment 2010.