The company’s VP of marketing, Aline Santos, announced their plans at Mobile World Congress on February 27.
Though Unilever is ahead of the curve in comparison to global statistics, which suggest that there only 17% female-led startups , Santos is “not happy” with the current ratio.
Unilever commissioned a study into startups in the US, UK, India and Singapore. It highlighted that 46% of the founders believe there is a gender bias in the industry.
Looking at the experience of women in the community, 61% said there are not enough role models while 42% of female founders said that access to funding has been their biggest barrier; anecdotal evidence suggested they will get a male colleague to present to investors in their place to improve chances of access to capital. A whopping 39% of female founders frequently encountered sexism while running their startups, including what they interpreted as inappropriate invitations to late-night meetings.
More than 4 in 10 believe that no matter how successful their business becomes, gender discrimination will stay the same.
Unilever has partnered with UN Women and 22 other companies on what it has dubbed the ‘Global Innovation Coalition for Change’. This group is pushing for simple acknowledgement that there is an issue and then for companies to be transparent by publishing their own statistics. The group wants to revisit and redefine discrimination and in time provide accessible role models by establishing mentoring programmes. They will also create programmes across disciplines and sectors to help women feel confident across all areas of a business and create training schemes for younger people.