Leena Nair is the Chief Human Resources Officer for Unilever. Since 1992, when she joined Unilever as a trainee, Leena has had many firsts to her credit. Prior to her current role, she undertook a wide range of HR roles in India and currently, she is the first female and youngest ever CHRO of Unilever.
Unilever is a Dutch-British transnational consumer goods company co-headquartered in Rotterdam, Netherlands and London, United Kingdom. Its products include food, beverages, cleaning agents and personal care products. It is the world’s largest consumer goods company and is also the world’s largest producer of food spreads, such as margarine. With 170,000 employees, Unilever is one of the oldest multinational companies; its products are available in about 190 countries.
“I can’t talk about being ‘more human’ if I am not living it every minute of the day.” Leena’s commitment to creating a more human experience is embodied in the way she functions each day. She gives 100% of her attention to the people she is meeting with each day – she doesn’t carry a phone to check emails, instead she waits until the evening before handling them.
Leena gives 3 main steps to being human:
1. Find your purpose in the organization you work
2. Cultivate a feeling of well-being
3. Have the capacity to learn and relearn
How do we get leaders on this journey towards being more human? Most managers are going through the same feelings as employees. They are required to do more, with fewer resources and are left feeling anxious. Encourage them to recognize their feelings and understand these are the same feelings as their employees are dealing with each day. As companies have become more focused on becoming more human, health care costs have been reduced. Productivity has gone up, pride in the company has increased – there are many positive aspects.
Unilever found that people were spending 2 million hours calibrating people, giving people labels and ‘putting them in boxes’. Leena changed that by getting rid of the labels and boxes and instead asked the managers to spend the 2 million hour having conversations with people. She asked them to invest their time in the people, making HR much simpler.
What you will learn in this episode:
● How to make an HR ‘more human
● How Unilever is moving away from a vertical progression model
● Leena’s 3 steps to making decisions
● How to help people who aren’t comfortable being human at work
● Things Leena and Unilever as a whole are doing to encourage human qualities at work