UNILEVER SOUTH AFRICA: CONTEXTUAL LEADERSHIP OF CULTURE FOR INCLUSIVE…
UNILEVER SOUTH AFRICA: CONTEXTUAL LEADERSHIP OF
CULTURE FOR INCLUSIVE GROWTH
even deeper understanding of the dynamics of their South African marketplace, their company’s values,
and the requirements for a true sustainability-inclusive growth culture.
Mun-Gavin considered what it meant to be a contextual leader.
acknowledged the need to be both inclusive
celebrating women’s natural beauty,
THE BUSINESS CASE FOR DRIVING A SUSTAINABILITY AGENDA
The Lux brand had reinvented itself through a deep understanding of the market; unpacking subtle narratives, the brand had been re-shaped and re-crafted to celebrate that women were more than just superficial beauty.
In October 2017, the brand was criticized for a
seemingly racist campaign.22
Africa, Dove had run a self-esteem program for three years, reaching over 300,000 high-school girls.
Dove was another proud example of a Unilever brand that prioritized what was right; it was one of the only
brands in the world to position authentic beauty in all shapes and forms at the heart
Lifebuoy, Dove, and Vaseline. These were some of the
brands associated with a Department of Education campaign targeting more than 15,000
Lux was only one example of Unilever’s many brands dedicated to a sustainability
DIVERSITY IN THE UNILEVER SOUTH AFRICA PERSONAL CARE TEAM
In South Africa, over 2.3 million
children had been orphaned by HIV and AIDS.21
Moneoa had overcome
heartbreak and embraced her new feminine physique, and was a top talent in South Africa’s music
Lira had recently been in the news for her debt-free decade—using money to
live a full life as opposed to constantly paying off excessive commitments.
Mun-Gavin recalled the tragic story about the death of
Nhlanhla’s five-year-old daughter in a car accident in 2009,17
Bongiwe-South African women, she was the official mother to two children and
surrogate mother to another five.
Mun-Gavin could hear vernacular and cursed under his breath that all of his world-class education
had never taught him an African language.
In Soweto, contrasts were obvious,
The team had proven its commitment by
putting the consumer at the core of its campaign;
Unilever’s leadership had worked hard to galvanize a culture of inclusive
growth among all employees.
In contrast, children who thrived within informal settlements
unapologetically shouted “Makhi” (neighbour) to gain the attention of well-loved neighbours
Mun-Gavin’s colleagues had grown up in townships very
similar to Soweto,
BACKGROUND TO UNILEVER’S MISSION
Colgate-Palmolive Company, Johnson & Johnson, Danone, and Nestlé.
The Proctor & Gamble Company had committed to a sustainability agenda
centred on climate, waste, and water that enabled consumers to make more responsible choices
L’Oréal Group was the world leader in beauty and had a CSR commitment to share beauty with all
Beiersdorf AG put
skincare at the forefront of the strategy outlined in its “Blue Agenda,”
evolved to become the world’s bestselling and most trusted germ-protection soap.
Unilever Sustainable Living Plan,
and enhance the livelihoods of people across the value chain.
halve the environmental
footprint of products,
help more than a billion people improve their health and well-being,
Polman had boldly stated that there was no business case for enduring poverty and runaway climate
echoing Lever’s initial pledge to create a
specifically the skin and hair care segments, which were projected
to own 9.04 per cent of this market by 2024.
Unilever had also identified key health and wellness opportunities in its food and beverage businesses, taking the reduction of fats and salts in these products seriously in response to the changing preferences of its consumers
opportunities in emerging markets and had since seen results
In 2007, Unilever made what was then considered a risky decision: to shift its focus from America and
Europe and actively move projects, people, and other resources to the developing world.
Unilever’s lifelong intention in the
1890s with Sunlight, a brand that aimed to make cleanliness and hygiene commonplace
he developed a mission to make a difference in the living
conditions of the poor.
The immersion that day of the team into the environments
While Unilever was invested in driving a sustainability agenda, it
made no apologies for being a for-profit organization.
position a superficial brand with no moral appeal and remain true to its
overarching vision of empowering women.
Lux billboard, sun-bleached and peeling,
overall agenda, which placed sustainability at the heart of every brand within
the Unilever stable.
juxtapositions within the vast township on the
Unilever South Africa was part of Unilever Pty. Ltd.
(Unilever), one of the world’s largest fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies.
Lira, Moneoa, and Nhlanhla, from the group Mafikizolo.
woman, Bongiwe. (soweto resident)
Unilever’s global chief executive officer (CEO), Paul Polman,
Unilever founder, William Lever,1 a member of the English nobility,
Sphe Mjadu, Unilever’s public relations manager,
Zola Bebe, Lux brand manager in South Africa,
Tony Mun-Gavin, business unit head
for Personal Care for Unilever South Africa,