Food Fella: Unilever honored for women’s initiatives

By Damon Riccio
New Jersey | Feb 21, 2020 at 10:45 am
Food Fella

A well-deserved honor for Unilever, as the company, which has its U.S. headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, took huge steps in the task of building and creating advancement opportunities for women in the workplace. 

Unilever, along with Deloitte and Medtronic, will be receiving the prestigious 2020 Catalyst Award on March 12 for initiatives that have accelerated progress for women in their organizations.

“Now Is the Moment. Be a Catalyst.” is the theme for the 2020 Catalyst Awards Conference and Dinner — highlighting the urgency to act with intention and purpose in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace.

Catalyst, a global nonprofit founded in 1962, is working with some of the world’s most powerful CEOs and leading companies to help build workplaces that work for women. The 2020 Catalyst Awards Conference will feature a conversation between Catalyst CEO and President Lorraine Hariton and former PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi. 

“We are thrilled to honor these initiatives for their excellence in actively building inclusive cultures for women and everyone in the workplace,” Hariton said. “Their success illustrates that now is the moment to be accountable and set new standards to develop and empower talent, and to innovate in the future of work in this new decade.” 

Fair, inclusive, safe and purpose-led — were just some of the words Unilever employees used to describe the company’s culture during the 2020 Catalyst Award evaluation of Unilever’s “Changing the Game, Unlocking the Future” global initiative. Along with those words, numerous stories were told of how the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion creates passion and empowers people to thrive in their careers.

Changing the Game, Unlocking the Future is a core element of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, a blueprint for growing the business and creating positive social impact. The initiative extends and enhances Unilever’s 2013 Catalyst Award-winning initiative by setting a goal to achieve gender balance across management levels by 2020 through developing a more thoughtful and sustainably inclusive culture. Senior leaders analyzed workforce metrics across the company, uncovering the specific functions and regions with the most room for growth. Five functions and regions were identified as “Hot Spots” — supply chain; enterprise technology solutions; finance; North Africa and the Middle East; and Africa — where Unilever could strategically target its efforts to increase women’s representation across the pipeline.

Here are some highlights of the initiative:

  • Tools and processes to drive gender equity in recruitment and advancement, including gender-balanced interview slate requirements, robust diversity and inclusion goals, key performance indicators, and the Gender Appointment Ratio, a measurement to track senior leaders’ records in appointing women.
  • Work-life and flexibility offerings customized according to the function and job to support employees across the globe, notably at Unilever’s tea plantations and factories.
  • Mentoring, sponsorship and coaching programs for women that are offered both formally and informally.
  • Safety measures and need-based accommodations to ensure comfortable and inclusive working conditions, especially in Hot Spot regions.

From 2016 to 2019, women’s representation increased across levels, regions, and functions at Unilever. Notably, the representation of women in executive leadership increased from 15% to 33%. Additionally, the share of supply chain vice presidents who are women increased from 17% to 30%. Women now hold 49% of management-level positions in Africa and 49% of management-level positions and above globally.

It’s no secret: Unilever just happens to be one of the world’s leading suppliers of beauty & personal care, home care, and foods & refreshment products, with sales in over 190 countries and reaching 2.5 billion consumers a day. It has 155,000 employees and generated sales of 56.6 billion in 2018. Over half (60%) of the company’s footprint is in developing and emerging markets. Unilever has around 400 brands found in homes all over the world, including Dove, Knorr, Dirt Is Good, Rexona, Hellmann’s, Lipton, Wall’s, Lux, Magnum, Axe, Sunsilk and Surf. 

Kudos to the nonprofit Catalyst organization and its work moving these issues forward, and to the consumer packaged goods giant Unilever for making tremendous strides on this initiative!

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Find out more at unileverusa.com or catalyst.org.

Fairway files for bankruptcy protection, secures financing for potential sale

For the past several years, financial troubles have plagued Fairway Market, the specialty gourmet grocer born in New York City that spread out to 14 stores, including two in New Jersey.

Now, Fairway Market, together with certain of its affiliates, announced it has filed a voluntary petition under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code to complete its strategic sale process. The company has entered into a stalking horse asset purchase agreement with Village Super Market Inc. to sell up to five New York City Fairway stores and its distribution center for approximately $70 million. In addition, the company will execute a court-supervised sale process for its remaining store locations. An Ad Hoc Group of the company’s senior lenders are supportive of the sale process and have agreed to provide the company with up to $25 million in debtor-in-possession financing.

File photo
Fairway Market, the specialty gourmet grocer born in New York City has filed for Chapter 11 bakruptcy protection.

Fairway Market will continue to conduct business and serve customers at its stores across the tri-state area, and expects no interruption in service during the court-supervised process. 

“We would like to extend gratitude to our employees, vendors, distributors and customers for their support, dedication and loyalty over the years. It has always been Fairway’s priority to ensure our patrons are provided with the most optimal grocery experience, with the freshest foods and best quality products, and our employees feel appreciated,” CEO Abel Porter said. “After careful consideration of all alternatives, we have concluded that a court-supervised sale process is the best way to meet our objectives of preserving as many jobs as possible, maximizing value for our stakeholders and positioning Fairway for long term success under new ownership.”

New Jersey-based Village Super Market, one of the largest members of Wakefern Food Corp., operates a chain of ShopRite supermarkets along with the recently purchased Gourmet Garage banner of specialty markets in the Northeast. 

“Perry and Nick Sumas opened the first Village Market in 1937, and our family continues to believe deeply in the importance of neighborhood grocery stores. We appreciate that Fairway’s loyal customers are concerned about the future, and, if we are successful in our bid, we are committed to keeping Fairway, including its name, unique product selection and value, a part of this community,” CEO Robert Sumas said.

Fairway Market has operated as a unique food retailer, offering customers a differentiated one-stop shopping experience as “The Place to Go Fooding.” Fairway has been a well-known food destination in the greater New York City metropolitan area for gourmet, and recently expanded with the opening of The Cooking Place, a cooking school, in June 2019. The mix it has traditionally offered consists of an extensive selection of fresh, natural and organic products, prepared foods and hard-to-find specialty and gourmet offerings, along with a full assortment of conventional groceries. In March 2009, Fairway’s modest expansion moved across the Hudson to Paramus and then, in 2012, it opened its second New Jersey location in a shuttered Pathmark location in Woodland Park.

But its struggles truly illustrate the extremely competitive nature of our metro area’s retail food industry, as players like Wegman’s, Lidl, Aldi, ShopRite/Wakefern and even Stew Leonard’s all step up their game with new stores and different product assortments and banners as they look to attract and keep consumers shopping in their stores.

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For more information about Fairway Market’s bankruptcy protection, please visit: omniagentsolutions.com/fairway.

Damon Riccio | driccio@roi-nj.com | @damonriccio