Initiating Change From Within: How Unilever Is Advancing A Culture Of Inclusion And Belonging was originally published on WayUp.
When you’re looking for a company that aligns with your values and career goals, there’s a lot to consider. Now more than ever recent grads are looking for companies where diversity, equity, and inclusion are a part of the company culture. One company making diversity and inclusion a top priority is Unilever.
Many of Unilever’s brands have a history of championing and supporting diverse communities.
For years, Ben & Jerry’s has been fighting for social justice and has supported criminal justice reform and voting access for the Black community. One of their recent collaborations was a flavor partnership, “Change the Whirled” with Colin Kaepernick which benefits the Know Your Rights Camp. The mission of the camp is to advance the liberation and well-being of Black and Brown communities.
Through the CROWN Coalition (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Unilever’s brand, Dove has supported anti-racism efforts and helped pass legislation in several states to protect against hair discrimination.
Another Unilever brand, SheaMoisture has a mission of contributing to and supporting the Black community. One of the ways it does this is by supporting women entrepreneurs of color through The New Voices Fund which was launched in 2017 to invest in companies run by women of color. Another way SheaMoistureis supporting the Black community is by using its platform to amplify Black, female-owned indy brands, providing exposure for young startups like Brown Girl Jane.
Beyond its many influential Brands, Unilever also prides itself on being an inclusive workforce and encourages employees to bring their true selves to work. One of the ways they’re supporting and growing a diverse workforce is through their co-op program. which allows students to work full-time while pursuing their education. In 2021’s co-op class, 57% have self-identified as BIPOC and/or LGBTQIA+, which is a testament to Unilever’s commitment to nurturing and growing diverse talent.
To learn more about what it’s like participating in Unilever’s co-op program I spoke with two current co-ops about their experience.
Rutgers University junior, Linda (Supply Chain Management and Business Management and IT major) has felt supported by her team and the greater Unilever community throughout her co-op experience. “I feel like the culture at Unilever is to lead with empathy. It makes it comfortable to reach out to other people for support,” shared Linda.
One of the things that initially drew Linda to Unilever, is the company’s commitment to diversifying its supplier base and paying its workers a fair wage. A few months into the program, she’s found a supportive community and has gained a broader understanding of the supply chain.
“I like that Unilever allows you the opportunity to understand the supply chain fully. There’s a lot to learn and no end to that learning,” said Linda. Her experience has been helping her close the gap between her education and real-life application. Linda’s advice to students interested in the program is to reach out to someone who has already been in the co-op and take the time to get to know the company.
Seyi, a Data Science and Statistics master’s candidate at the University of Houston, shared with us that his Unilever team has been encouraging throughout his co-op despite the challenges of working remotely during the pandemic.
When asked to describe his day-to-day in the co-op Seyi said no two days are ever the same. Sometimes he has early morning meetings in different timezones, and other days he’s working on the various projects he’s assigned to throughout the day. He’s been learning how to find the balance between his workload and his master’s degree.
Early on into Seyi’s co-op, he experienced the state-wide power outages in Texas. Despite the chaos, he felt supported when his team reached out to him to make sure he was doing well and gave him the flexibility to recuperate. When asked to describe the company culture Seyi said, “The culture is great, everyone is helpful and there’s enthusiasm on my team. You can tell people love what they do.”
If Seyi’s experience in the co-op could be described in just three words they would be: exciting because he is seeing the lessons he learns in class being put into action, challenging because the learning never stops, and ambiguous because he has the excitement of doing something different every day. His advice for students interested in the co-op is to, “Be yourself, and remember that interviewing is a two-way street. You should like the company you choose to work for.”
Unilever is taking action and using its influence to fight systemic racism and social injustice to initiate change within and outside of the corporation. To do so, they’ve committed to 5 initiatives:
- Pledging $8 million dollars and counting to organizations and activists working towards social justice and racial equality.
- Increasing spending with diverse suppliers.
- Ensuring that the diversity of their workforce reflects the communities they serve.
- Upholding a zero-tolerance policy on intolerance – both among Unilever employees and the suppliers, customers, and partners they work with.
- Adding their voice and influence to advocate for safe and fair access to voting.
These bold steps will ensure that Unilever can create an ongoing impact in their company and the world. To learn more about Unilever and how you can be a part of this revolutionary company, click here.