Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) said women will fill at least 50% of the managerial positions at India’s largest maker of household goods by 2022.
“We believe that our employees’ contributions are richer because of their diversity and we want to help them feel free to bring their authentic selves to work every day," Sanjiv Mehta, chairman and managing director at HUL, told shareholders during the company’s 86th annual general meeting held in Mumbai on 29 June.
HUL, through its Project Shakti programme, has nearly 110,000 women micro-entrepreneurs across 18 states boosting the distribution reach of the company’s brands. It provides livelihood opportunities to women in rural India where they are trained by Hindustan Unilever executives on sales and distribution.
The contribution of women to India’s gross domestic product (GDP) is 18%, according to a May 2018 study by McKinsey Global Institute. This is one of the lowest levels in the world.
Women account for only 25% of India’s labour force. More than 70% of the potential GDP opportunity comes from increasing women’s participation in the labour force by 10 percentage points, the report said.
The consumer goods company has also set up a digital council comprising a cross-functional team of leaders who are designing the agenda of ‘Reimagining HUL’ consisting of more than 80 experiments that are underway at present.
“By 2030, India will have a large cohort of ‘Generation Z’ consumers with ubiquitous internet, smartphones, and digital media. As they start earning, they will actively use technology-enabled consumption models and have a big influence on the consumption behaviour of their households," said Mehta.
Mehta, who took over the reins of HUL after Harish Manwani’s retirement last year, detailed the company’s five-pronged strategy that includes driving purpose into brands and enhancing societal impact, innovating for the future, building a future-fit organization, nurturing talent in the new age, and re-imagining its business across the value chain by leveraging data and technology.
“We now have a full-fledged end-to-end digital transformation programme for the business that will redefine the way we work. Our people data centre picks up real-time consumer signals and identifies business opportunities that are used as inputs to craft brilliant mixes," said Mehta.
More than nine out of 10 Indian households use one or more of HUL’s products, Mehta said, and maintained that the company is harnessing the power of data and artificial intelligence to understand potential trends, customized solutions, augment decision-making and build a feedback loop.
“Our internet of things (IoT) powered digital factories are helping us leverage installed capacities. Automated warehouses, robotics and guided vehicles are helping with stock accuracy, reducing truck loading time and raising the level of customer service," told shareholders.