Piloting a Program for Radical Flexibility

10/04/2021
Leena Nair
Leena Nair is the first female and youngest CHRO of Unilever and member of the Unilever Leadership Executive. She leads a pioneering agenda for the company’s 149,000-strong workforce. Under her leadership, the London-based multinational consumer goods company has achieved a 50/50 gender balance across global leadership and a living wage across its supply chain. Her expertise has driven growth, leading to the €50 billion business it is today.
Piloting a Program for Radical Flexibility

The last year and a half has caused massive changes in all of our lives, both personal and professional. What if a company decided not only to embrace those changes, but also to use them as a catalyst for large-scale evolution in the way we work and in the way we think about work? In this episode, we speak with Leena Nair, the first female, the first Asian individual, and the youngest ever Chief Human Resources Officer of Unilever, about what the company is doing to create a radically flexible work model—and the benefits that approach can hold for everyone involved.  

Nair heads a pioneering agenda for Unilever’s 149,000-strong workforce. Under her direction, the London-based company has achieved a 50/50 gender balance across global leadership and now offers a living wage across its supply chain. Her expertise has driven business growth to €50 billion. Nair began her Unilever career at Hindustan Unilever, where she became the first woman on the management committee in 90 years, heading HR. She was also appointed the first woman on the Unilever South Asia leadership team and was responsible for Unilever’s growth in five markets with a business size of around €6 billion. Nair has continued to redefine how big business can contribute to the environment and society; she has a reputation for putting the people at the heart of the business, driving growth, and taking risks to create a better business and a better society.

Nair speaks about the unprecedented flexibility that Unilever is currently piloting with its workforce, how the company encourages its employees to be lifelong learners, and her push to continue valuing all the lessons learned over the last 18 months. She also shares with us the lesson Unilever learned about treating every country’s workforce according to the country’s own culture, and why it’s so important that the company continue to support its employees in every way possible, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Some Questions Asked:

  • What can you tell us about the program that’s allowing people to get an education while maintaining job security?
  • What more can you tell us about how Unilever is imagining what will happen next?
  • Unilever wants all its employees to have a future-fit skill set by 2025. What is a future-fit skill set? And how are you ensuring that goal is met?


In This Episode, You Will Learn:

  • How COVID-19 has forced employers and employees alike to slow down and take stock of the way we work.
  • The ways Unilever strives to support its employees’ well-being—mentally, physically, and emotionally.
  • How other companies can learn from Unilever’s gender balance and what they can do to achieve the same.


Links:

Leena Nair
Leena Nair is the first female and youngest CHRO of Unilever and member of the Unilever Leadership Executive. She leads a pioneering agenda for the company’s 149,000-strong workforce. Under her leadership, the London-based multinational consumer goods company has achieved a 50/50 gender balance across global leadership and a living wage across its supply chain. Her expertise has driven growth, leading to the €50 billion business it is today.