LGBTQI AND HIV HEROES HONOURED AT APCOM HERO AWARDS 2021

By November 26, 2021 January 11th, 2022 Newsroom, Regional, What We Do

Business Ally

Unilever Group of Thai Companies

Thailand

OUR LGBTQI+ VISION: We will be a BEACON of inclusion for the LGBTQI+ community and allies, amplifying their voice in society and at Unilever, to enable them to be their true, authentic selves.

We want to see a society where everyone is treated equally. We’re working to create a fairer, more socially inclusive world. Business can lead the fight for a more equal, diverse and inclusive society. We want everyone who works for Unilever to be treated fairly and to have fair access to opportunities.

Diversity and inclusion have been core elements of our business strategy for many years. We want to take that momentum and go further – in the pursuit of equity. For us, equity means fair treatment, and fair access to opportunities, information and resources for all, so that everyone can thrive in truly inclusive societies.

The drive for equity is the link that joins the fundamental principles of our business: a commitment to justice and human rights everywhere we operate, and a determination to apply a gender perspective to everything we do. We’re developing new approaches to make sure everyone across our business supports this central element of our Compass strategy. We’re determined to achieve a culture where all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully, celebrating their uniqueness.

How is your business able to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic

When COVID hit Thailand, Unilever’s 1st three actions were:

  1. Protect our People
  2. Protect our Business
  3. Protect our Community

On protecting our people, Unilever immediately announced a WFH policy and set up Incidental Management Team to review and implement COVID safety protocols for our people, especially our factory workers, our suppliers and business partners. Unilever procured vaccines for our employees, so they can be protected against the pandemic

On protecting our business, Unilever ensure our products which were essential sanitization items can continue to be delivered to our customers and consumers despite the lockdown. We’ve ensured our production is not disrupted and provided safety to our factory workers On protecting our community, Unilever have donated over 100 million THB worth of essential items and medical supplies to hospitals throughout Thailand, people with disabilities and vulnerable groups in response to COVID-19. Furthermore, Unilever was among the 40 CEOs to led communication on vaccines to accelerate herd immunity in the country and provide authoritative source of information on the vaccine to the public.

What one achievement the company has accomplished that you’re most proud of in relation to LGBTQI

In response to our global commitment, Thailand is one of our global top 10 countries to kickstart finding diverse suppliers within Thailand. Unlike other countries like the US & UK that have strong established SMEs network of NGOs organized by diversity, we realized there’s no such database of SMEs sorted by gender ownership or any other diverse definition in Thailand.

On 21st January 2021, Unilever globally announced a set of ambitious commitments and actions to help build a more equitable & inclusive society which includes spending 2 billion euros annually with diverse suppliers worldwide by 2025.

Leveraging on our scale & corporate branding, Unilever Thailand decided to run an inaugural nation-wide pilot diverse SMEs recruitment drive, creating the first demand in the country, letting SMEs know about our commitment to business partner with diverse SMEs. We’ll promote supplier diversity throughout our value chain. Through our Partner with Purpose programme, we’ll work with our partners to encourage them to drive supplier diversity in their own supply chains.

What do you find most challenging about LGBTQI inclusion in your setting

Government, political bodies, business sector and the general public needs to embrace diversity and inclusion. We must convert the abnormalism in today’s society to normalism where LGBTQI can be accepted for who they are in the society and everywhere is a safe space. And that welfare rights are fair and equal for everyone. Unilever Thailand is also proud to have extended Flexible Benefits to the same-sex partners of employees, which can support them in all dimensions of wellbeing: physical, mental, emotional, and purposeful.

There is yet underrepresentation in the system that needs to recognize the diverse groups and their rights. (Majority of advertisement do not promote positive beauty and includes LGBTQI. Products are still define by gender-base). Research indicates that over 10% of people globally are estimated to be LGBTQI+, whereas only 1.8% of characters in ads are portrayed to be LGBTQI+.

We are changing all of this and beyond. Many of our purposeful brands also advocate for D&I -including for LGBTQI+ inclusion- and positive beauty in the wider community. Notably, Sunsilk Thailand launched the “Hair Talk” commercial featuring Rock Kwanlada, Miss Tiffany’s Universe 2020, that empowered and raised awareness for transgender women in Thailand. We need continued leadership from businesses, governments, civil society, and citizens to bring about a more inclusive world where everyone can lead the kind of life they want.

Tell us about other initiatives that the company is currently implementing in relation to LGBTQI

We want to address the barriers that have stood in the way of diverse suppliers in the past. That means building the capabilities of people running businesses now, and of people who could be the entrepreneurs of the future.

We want our existing suppliers to be our partners in driving positive change. As part of our Partner with Purpose strategy, we’ll encourage them to look at where they source their goods and services – and join our work to make their own supply chain more diverse. That way, we’ll extend our reach and the impact we can achieve.

We have 56,000 supplier partners around the world, and if all our partners commit to increase their spend with diverse suppliers, it will exponentially scale up and accelerate the transformation of our value chain. My big ambition is that our suppliers will consider the value of supplier diversity, and commit to it across their full network.

In addition to this, Unilever have also setup the ProUd Network, Unilever’s LGBTQI+ network with 150 members across the globe. ProUd focus on building a safe space for LGBTs employees & allies where we focus on cultural education to wider employees network, mentorship for LGBT employees & HR policy reviews with inputs of LGBT employees. Our local SEAT chapter currently has 20+ members from Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, and Singapore. Notably, the ProUd Network recently launched “The Queer-iosity Playbook,” a comprehensive online course on LGBTQI+ inclusion at Unilever.

For companies that are not yet considering having LGBTQI inclusion within their company, what would be your suggestion to help move their business to be more LGBTQI inclusive

Cultivating fairer and more inclusive ways of doing business calls for collective action. Stakeholders across sectors need to work together, and business must be part of the solution.

Inclusivity is a human rights issue, and we need government, business sectors to change the system so that societal – ism does not have a place to exist (discrimination, racism, sexism, ageism, ableism)

We cannot be bystanders to a society or culture that cast out or under-represents group of people. We must all join forces to change the system and it starts with you and getting your organization to drive diversity and inclusion

Your company has been nominated for the Business Ally category. What was your reaction

We are thrilled and honored that our years of work have been recognized, especially from APCOM. Thank you so much to APCOM for this award. It means a lot for Unilever to be the catalyst for change.

That’s because we know that gender equality -in all shapes and forms- is the single most effective catalyst to unlock progress in human development and economic growth. In addition, the widespread recognition of women’s economic empowerment is a direct pathway to fight global poverty, women face substantial barriers to equal employment and education opportunities. We’re committed to breaking down those barriers -not just by breaking down stereotypes through our marketing, but also by embracing gender equality in our workplace.

It is our hope that our actions will inspire other companies to do the same and we are more than happy to share our learnings.

Despite the fact that the COVID-19 is still with us, what is a warm/hopeful message that you would like to share with the other business communities in the Asia Pacific region

We are all in this together, and it is important that we stay strong, physically, and mentally, to get through this. The pandemic is far from over yet, and we must all take care of ourselves and loved ones and remain vigilant to ensure the safety of ourselves, families and those around us.

It’s going to take action from everyone in society to overcome this challenge, and we are ready to play our part and fight this together. Stay safe and Stay Well.


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