Unilever South Africa: Contextual Leadership of Culture for Inclusive Growth
(6 pages of text)
On December 5, 2017, Tony Mun-Gavin, the business unit head for Personal Care at Unilever South Africa, was leading an immersion experience for new team members in the Soweto township of Johannesburg. The immersion was part of an effort to continuously embed a culture of inclusive growth with new employees, and it aligned with the corporate social responsibility commitment of the parent company, Unilever Pty. Ltd. Mun-Gavin faced a conflict in marketing the company’s personal care brand, Lux, which had always been associated with glamorous female celebrities but that was no longer in line with the company’s commitments to sustainability, inclusive growth, and women’s empowerment. His team had to work to re-position the brand to celebrate the diverse roles of women in the 21st century. Would the re-positioning work, and would it be consistent with the company’s goals of embedding a culture of inclusive growth and ensuring sustainability across the organization?
This case can be used in graduate or postgraduate level courses on leadership, organizational behaviour, sustainability, or organizational development programs. The case highlights the requirement of leadership consistency when making decisions around sustainability, and raises questions about the role of advertising in creating high expectations of women. After working through the case and assignment questions, students will be able to do the following:
- Develop insight into contextual leadership to enhance inclusive growth.
- Analyze the steps in embedding a culture of inclusive growth, such as developing a leadership brand to support this culture across the organization.
- Evaluate Unilever’s role in empowering women.
- Create recommendations for embedding a culture of inclusive growth.
South Africa, Large, 2017
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