The talent agenda in HUL is not the sole responsibility of HR but is owned by me and every member of the leadership team
HUL has always believed that the biggest assets of the company are our people and our brands. It is my intrinsic belief that great people make great brands. As a company, the ability to attract, hire, develop and retain the best talent remains one of the most important agenda for me and my leadership team.
We are a purpose driven company and it is very important for the company’s leaders to be aligned with the purpose of the company. Our purpose of ‘making sustainable living commonplace’ is inspired from the Victorian era legend of our founding father Lord Leverhulme who manufactured the first branded soap in an era where one in every two children died before the age of two owing to the lack of hygiene. Having a sense of purpose in making a difference to the society is a vital part of how leaders think in the company. As a company, we believe that if we work in the interest of our consumers, customers, employees and the community, the shareholder value will get created.
The talent agenda in HUL is not the sole responsibility of HR but is owned by me and every member of the leadership team. The company operates on the principle that leaders build leaders. Any leader in the company at any level would not hesitate for a moment to work on strengthening the employer brand be it engaging with new entrants or extolling the virtues of working for HUL to a prospective talent. The reason behind this is very simple…this is how the leaders themselves were groomed. This is a key ingredient of HUL’s employer brand and its success.
Engaging with our key talent, understanding their aspirations and knowing them better together with strengthening our diversity & inclusion agenda have been amongst my important priorities this year. I had set a goal of personally connecting with the top 100 of my key talent in the company within this year and I have been tracking reasonably well having spent a good amount of time with 60-70 per cent of this group. These personal interactions have been very fruitful and have provided me insights into the company and our people. I have also been very conscious that we lose many of our young women managers when they become mothers. They leave the organization for variety of reasons like lack of support at home, absence of exciting job when they return back from maternity leave etc. We believe that it is the organization’s responsibility to provide necessary support so that we retain them and harness their talent. As a CEO, I take a very keen interest in our support to young mothers including personally speaking to expecting mothers assuring them of support and encouraging them to return to HUL after their maternity leave.
When I took over as the CEO of HUL, one my first tasks was to get a deep understanding of the company and its culture. Even before I landed in Mumbai, I had sent out a detailed questionnaire to the senior leaders in my business. The ensuing deep-dive sessions helped me get a great perspective about the history of the business, our agenda and also afforded me an opportunity to know my people. My intent was also for the people in the company to get to know me better. Together with the leadership team, we then worked on reviewing our strategy. The next step was to ensure that all the people in the company were aligned behind our agenda. I then conducted several road shows across the country where I shared my perceptions, our plans going forward and taking direct feedback from my people.
I continue to connect with people in my company on a regular basis and through all means possible, including one-on-one sessions, breakfast meetings with young managers, town-halls and mailers. My engagement with my people extends much beyond the quarterly results communications and is generally a two-way process – with me sharing my thoughts on various subjects and the employees providing me feedback, sharing their insights and also their concerns.
SANJIV MEHTA is the CEO and Managing Director of Hindustan Unilever Limited