Gender Balance

Our commitment: Enhance gender balance in our workforce and empower women across the entire value chain


We aim to provide a workplace culture that generates equal opportunities for everyone, and in which people are treated with dignity and respect. Our main focus remains on achieving gender balance, reflected in our commitment to the UN’s Women Empowerment Principles.

Our support for women’s empowerment

We recognise that gender equality, women’s rights, education for women and girls worldwide, and women’s empowerment are critical to Creating Shared Value for our business and for society. We believe that different ways of thinking complement each other and lead to better decisions. In other words, gender balance simply makes business sense.

We believe diversity in our business and throughout our supply chain is a real asset. We have a particular focus on gender balance and empowering women. We have been a signatory of the UN’s Women Empowerment Principles since 2013. The principles are a set of seven steps designed to help businesses to support gender equality and empowerment in three key areas: workplace, marketplace and community.

The UN Women’s Empowerment Principles

  1. Establish high-level corporate leadership for gender equality;
  2. Treat all women and men fairly at work – respect and support human rights and non-discrimination;
  3. Ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of all women and men workers;
  4. Promote education, training and professional development for women;
  5. Implement enterprise development, supply chain and marketing practices that empower women;
  6. Promote equality through community initiatives and advocacy; and
  7. Measure and publicly report on progress to achieve gender equality

Our objectives towards 2020

By 2017: Ensure that farmer training support programmes are: developing agripreneurs; equally accessible to men, women and young people; and available to farm workers.

By 2018: Be a gender-balanced company by creating the enabling conditions in our work environment to achieve annual increases in the percentage of women managers and senior leaders (market management members and key roles at the centre).

By 2020: The livelihoods of women have been improved in five priority sourcing locations.
Our progress

Our Gender Balance Initiative is designed to improve the balance at all levels, with a focus on our senior leadership and management teams. Across our supply chains, we run and support initiatives to give women a greater voice and economic independence.

We are on track to achieve our objectives. In 2016, we launched our Diversity and Inclusion Framework, setting out our business case for a strategy that will make an impact across innovation, society and culture. The Framework encompasses each area of diversity. Gender balance remains our main focus, but is complemented by diversity efforts such as the inclusion of people with disabilities, cross-generational working and multiculturalism.

At the end of 2016, 3779 employees across the company had received unconscious bias training, which has been embedded into a range of programmes across markets. We trained 25 co-ops in our cocoa supply chain in gender awareness in 2016, 36% of the total. We also launched two women’s forums in Côte d’Ivoire, giving 175 women a greater voice within their communities.

We also participated in events around the world to support International Women’s Day.

Empowering women in agriculture

We recognise that women face real challenges in the developing world, including access to financial resources, knowledge and training. In line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we have developed a number of initiatives that promote training and professional development for women along our supply chain.

We are committed to enhancing our activities and programmes connected to business. We support the UN’s Every Woman Every Child initiative, which encourages governments, businesses and organisations to play a greater role in improving the health and wellbeing of women and children. For our business, this includes exploring how we can do more to help improve the lives of women who work in our value chain.

Progress on empowering women in cocoa supply chain

Nestlé, collaborating with independent partners such as the Fair Labor Association and World Cocoa Foundation, is working to empower women in the cocoa supply chain in Côte d’Ivoire.

Since the launch of this initiative in 2013, substantial progress has been made to improve the lives of Ivorian women.

In 2016, a women’s cooperative group called Ouado was brought into the Nestlé Cocoa Plan. This coop began selling food crops produced by the women, and further diversified to coffee and cocoa. Already in 2017, a plant nursery has been established and they have sold 45 tonnes of cocoa.

A pillar of the Nestlé Cocoa Plan is better lives, with one focus area being empowering women. We do this by supporting women in their traditional roles while helping build capacity through their crop cultivation.

As part of Nestlé’s child labour monitoring and remediation system, we have introduced literacy courses to help women and children to pick up this vital skill. This will improve their lives within communities as well as their opportunities to run successful businesses.

In line with previous years, we are publishing our main KPIs for women’s involvement. By measuring these numbers we are learning through doing and being open about the issues.

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