Why it matters
From under-representation and a lack of equal pay in business management, to restricted access to training, tools and finance for agricultural workers, women continue to face challenges throughout the global workplace. Building gender equality and supporting women’s rights, education and empowerment are critical to Creating Shared Value for our business. Throughout our value chain, we work to tackle the challenges women face.
What we are doing
In 2019, we launched our Gender Balance Acceleration Plan to increase the proportion of women in our top 200 senior executive positions. In Brazil, Iran and India, we initiated surveys among farmers to assess supply chain equality. Read more about it in our 2019 progress report.
Raising gender awareness throughout our business
We launched our Nestlé Gender Balance Acceleration Plan in March, coinciding with International Women’s Day. The Plan aims to increase the proportion of women in the group’s top 200 senior executive positions from around 20% at present to 30% by 2022.
The Plan contains a series of specific actions:
- Supporting all managers to foster an inclusive workplace.
- Training managers in unconscious bias.
- Encouraging the use of Nestlé’s paid parental leave program and flexible work policies in all Nestlé operating companies.
- Enhancing mentoring and sponsorship programs to prepare high-potential women for senior executive positions.
- Hiring and promoting more women in senior executive positions.
- Reviewing results with senior leaders to promote gender balance and ensure progress.
- Continuing our efforts to champion equal pay and eliminate conditions that create gender pay gaps.
- Reporting progress in Nestlé’s annual Creating Shared Value progress report.
Accompanying the launch, a ‘Leading Together’ conference available to all employees via a webcast explored issues around inclusive leadership and unconscious bias, as well as women’s empowerment across the value chain. A further webcast looked at gender balance and Nestlé initiatives such as our network for female engineers.
The role of women in senior positions was also the focus of our ‘Leading in the Boardroom’ conference in July, where Sophie Bellon, Chairwoman of Sodexo’s Board of Directors, and Béatrice Guillaume Grabisch, Nestlé’s Executive Vice-President and Global Head of Human Resources and Business Services, shared their experiences as women on boards of directors.
External recognition of our empowerment work
Nestlé’s drive to empower women was recognized in 2019, when we won the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s Leading Women Award. The award was for empowering women along the value chain, reflecting our work to advance gender balance in the workplace and provide equal opportunities for everyone at the company. Nestlé was one of only two companies to win one of the 10 awards.
Tackling equal pay
In 2019, a total of 35 Nestlé markets embarked on a pilot study on the equal pay analysis. Where gaps were identified, if any, markets are taking corrective measures on a local and targeted basis. The equal pay analysis tool will be further rolled out to other markets in line with the Nestlé Gender Balance Acceleration Plan.
Celebrating International Parents’ Day
In June 2019, we celebrated International Parents’ Day by recognizing the achievement of our Maternity Protection Policy being implemented in every country in which we operate and the establishment of more than 400 breastfeeding rooms in our operations. The communications around this raised awareness of the fact that maternity protection is a fundamental right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is at the heart of the International Labour Organization (ILO) standards. This was part of our celebration of the ILO’s 100th anniversary.
In an even more progressive step, we launched our Nestlé Global Parental Support Policy at the end of 2019. Recognizing the diverse structures of modern families, the new policy sets global minimums, providing gender-neutral parental support for all employees by the end of 2022. Under the policy, the minimum period of parental leave for primary caregivers is extended to 18 weeks, and there is now a minimum of four weeks’ leave for secondary caregivers. The new policy also reinforces employment protection, nondiscrimination, health protection, the availability of flexible working options, and breastfeeding support.
Developing sexual harassment prevention training
To ensure that each of our employees can work in a safe and healthy environment, we have clearly defined, non-negotiable, minimum behavioral standards. This includes zero tolerance of any form of harassment or discrimination on any grounds. Embedding this in our day-to-day operations and in our corporate culture requires each of us to follow our Nestlé Code of Business Conduct, understand how we live it and know the processes to follow if we identify any situation contrary to it.
To reinforce this, we launched our Sexual Harassment Prevention training course in July 2019. The training is aligned with the new international labor standard adopted by the International Labour Conference to combat violence and harassment at work. It aims to raise awareness of what sexual harassment is, Nestlé’s position on this, and how to proceed if an employee is a victim of, or a witness to, such behavior.
Demonstrating our commitment
Promoting gender equality in Brazilian farming
In Brazil, more farms than ever are managed by women, but still many face discrimination, especially in access to training and finance. To help tackle this and change mindsets in the sector, Nestlé has created a group of 15 ambassadors to promote gender equality in dairy farming. The group participated in the 4th National Congress of Women in Agribusiness in São Paulo in October, which attracted 2000 attendees, and speaks at other events across Brazil. Nestlé has also empowered 298 women in rural communities by training them on farm milk collection, automation, digitalization and agripreneurship activities.
Talking about International Women’s Day in Ecuador
América Economía magazine, a respected international publication, featured a number of female Nestlé employees who discussed the ways in which women are changing the country’s workplace leadership. Women have traditionally been excluded from leadership roles in Ecuador, but companies like Nestlé are helping to change this. The magazine featured several women who have defied expectations to develop successful careers in business leadership, along with barriers they have overcome and how they have grown from employees to leaders. In Nestlé Americas, 32% of the leadership committee are women, but in Ecuador this is now 50%, and 45% at managerial level.
Helping take women out of poverty in Pakistan
The Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) is Pakistan’s largest social safety net program, supporting millions of the country’s poorest inhabitants. As part of the BISP, Nestlé has developed a Rural Women Sales Program. This transformative collaboration helps take women out of poverty by training them to be rural sales agents for Nestlé products. In doing so, it creates sustainable solutions to address some of the key issues being faced by rural women in Pakistan, such as malnutrition and a lack of livelihood opportunities. More than 800 women have so far enrolled as rural sales agents, generating PKR 42.6 million (CHF 266 506) of sales.
In 2019, we partnered with Akhuwat, an NGO providing interest-free microfinance, to enable our sales agents to access loans to set up their own businesses. To date, more than 100 women have taken out micro-loans totaling PKR 2 million (CHF 12 512), a figure we are hoping to double over the coming year, and 40% have set up their own shop.
Nestlé Pakistan is also building the women’s awareness of the importance of nutrition. Using visual aids and easy-to-understand handbooks, nutrition experts provide advice and ideas on how to cook healthy, nutritious meals within a budget, and on good hygiene.
Rewarded for our gender equality work in Morocco
Nestlé was named among the top three companies in 2019, out of 43 entrants, for diversity and gender equality in Morocco. Although this was the first year we had entered into this national competition, our Maternity Protection Policy, flexible working options, attention given to work–life balance and other activities saw us collect an award from the Moroccan Prime Minister and Labor Minister.
Building gender equality in Indian dairy farming
Through our Village Women Dairy Development Project in India, we aim to empower 60 000 rural women by training them on farm milk collection, automation, digitalization and agripreneurship.
To further empower women, we designed a gender assessment tool to help our agricultural team understand the issues affecting gender equality in Indian dairy farming and build and implement appropriate interventions. The tool uses a questionnaire, distributed through Village Development Centers, which support rural agricultural workers. Questions explore the roles of men and women in dairy activities and managing household income, training received and other activities, as well as people’s aspirations. From this, the team can design interventions to tackle inequality.
Promoting literacy skills in Côte d’Ivoire
Our Maggi brand entered the third year of its literacy education program in 2019. Developed in partnership with UNESCO, Maggie Mammies aims to increase literacy rates for women in Côte d’Ivoire, especially numerical literacy. The program is aimed at the thousands of women who sell Maggi products and helps them gain the skills to run market stalls and manage finances more effectively and safely.
Nestlé USA Supplier Diversity
In the United States, Nestlé has an internal procurement program called Supplier Diversity. This is an initiative in which expenditure with women-, minority-, veteran- and LGBT-owned suppliers is tracked. As well as supporting the livelihood for a more diverse supplier pool, the program helps build Nestlé’s partnership with approximately 30 retailers and food service partners, with whom we share this information in compliance with their reporting guidelines.