Blog from Tricia Barnett

“There was a top women line up at a Women First event in London last month, when three directors of Unilever Food Solutions talked the packed out room through their experience of managing big business with their home life responsibilities. Clearly there were structures in place that enabled them to do this and I was warmly invited to visit them with my fellow director Stroma, to learn more about Unilever’s Gender Balance Approach.

Tracey Rogers, managing director and Claire Fox, HR director explained their UK operations has a 50/50 balance of employees and close to a 50/50 balance of non-manager employees across the whole business (including Ireland), but although men had a narrow lead as managers, their directors and leadership team still had a long way to go to reach equality. Recognising that they clearly don’t have enough female talent they are focusing on both strengthening the supply through a proactive Talent Pipeline and finding ways to reduce attrition. Through recruitment, retention and career progression, strategies have been put in place to close the gap between policy and reality to achieve gender equality.

Their action plan has been devised by an action planning group that includes a cross section of employees in order to develop inclusive, balanced and actionable solutions. It has produced a toolkit to facilitate necessary change so that the company can meet its gender and diversity targets. They might not believe in quotas, but they pay out bonuses if the targets are reached!

It was an inspiring insight and something we know we could work with the tourism and hospitality sector to achieve. Has anyone out there got direct experience of such a positive gender and diversity plan of action? We would love to hear from you with your thoughts, one way or another.”