Paul Polman

Under Paul’s leadership, Unilever has made significant strides in moving to a gender balanced and inclusive organisation. Today, 45% of Unilever’s non-executive directors are female and 47% of all Unilever managers are female, up from 38% when Paul joined as CEO in 2009. Unilever’s world leading policies on recruitment, development and retention of women have helped to achieve this. A global maternity leave policy of 16 weeks and global paternity leave standard of three weeks have significantly helped employees transitioning to parenthood, leading to a 24% reduction in women leaving the organisation after having a child. The global “Unstereotype” campaign is a key initiative to support women’s empowerment and gender equality. As an important part of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, the company is making steady progress in its aim to empower five million women throughout the value chain, including improving the livelihoods of 800,000 women smallholder farmers. Unilever has begun to roll-out a financial inclusion programme with a goal to help empower up to 1.5 million female small-scale retailers, and Unilever’s Last mile distribution models are creating entrepreneurship opportunities for over 150,000 women through skills development and training. Externally, Paul is a HeforShe Impact Champion, and supported the Women Rising 2030 initiative. He is part of the UN Women Private Sector Leadership Advisory Council and a member of the 30% Club, for which he gave a speech at the launch of the new gender diversity index from FTSE Russell at the London Stock Exchange.

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