Diversity in any organization drives many benefits like innovation and growth but it works only when there is an inclusive culture, Unilever COO Nitin Paranjpe said on Thursday.
Diversity works with inclusion, and Unilever wants to be a beacon in this area as ”we believe it will be a driver of business growth for us”, Paranjpe said in his inaugural keynote address at the CII HR Conclave.
”Diversity drives many benefits, drives innovation, drives growth, there are plenty of studies which have documented this. But diversity only works in the presence of inclusive culture. Diversity in the absence of inclusion does not work,” he said.
Everyone in Unilever’s leadership team goes through inclusion training, he noted.
”We get coaching in terms of what works and what does not work and what we need to do to create this culture,” said Paranjpe.
Unilever is committed to the diversity agenda, not just internally in terms of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or disability, but also externally. ”We have committed that we will spend 2 billion Euro (annually) with diverse suppliers. We have committed to saying we will help 5 million retail partners improve their livelihoods and drive the growth,” he said in his virtual address. The Anglo-Dutch FMCG major is committed to a fair wage by 2030 for everyone who provides goods and services to Unilever, either employed by it or outside the company.
There should be a balance between the social interest and commercial interest of running an organisation, he asserted, adding that a sustainable business can also be a high-performing business.
”I like to be part of a team and a company which is pushing the agenda in trying to demonstrate that there is a new and a different model of capitalism, which can balance the social interest in the expectation that society has a business and the commercial interest of running an organisation,” Paranjpe added.
In fact, evidence over the last 10 years shows that sustainability drives both short-term and long-term performance, he added.
Paranjpe also said ”brands with purpose grow, people with purpose thrive and companies with purpose live.” ”In Unilever, purposeful sustainable brands are growing two times faster than the brands which have yet to find purpose. A Kantar study done more broadly shows that over a 12 year period, brands with purpose have been growing at 175 per cent faster than brands that have not invited this purpose,” he said.
Paranjpe observed that across the world, more and more people, especially youngsters, are seeking to work for organizations that have a purpose beyond just making money.
”They are no longer excited by just mercenary organizations, they want organizations and they want to be part of a group which wishes to make a difference to society at large,” he noted.