By Gemma Childe on 5th Sep 2012
Unilever has pledged to make more than half of its senior management team female by 2015.
The consumer products firm - renowned for its brands which include Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, Hellmann’s and Vaseline - has committed to giving 55 per cent of its jobs to women.
Consultancy firm McKinsey & Company carried out a study in 2010 which found that both women and men agreed it is tough for women to climb the corporate ladder when they start a family.
Another study by the firm five years ago revealed that 54% of the senior women executives surveyed were childless compared with 29% of the men (and a third were single, which was nearly double the proportion of single men).
Unilever says it is focusing on getting women into top management because they are a big business opportunity. Globally, women control nearly $12 trillion of the overall $18.4 trillion in consumer spending.
According to the Boston Consulting Group (2010), this sum of money is more than the GDP of Brazil, Russia, India, and China which was $11.23 trillion in 2011.
It is believed Unilever is also investing in more females because the majority of university graduates in developed countries are women. According to the OECD (2010), this is projected to rise from 57% in 2005 to 63% in 2025.