New Delhi: She has always dreamt big – when she joined HUL, she had written her vision – to be the HR director of the company. Many of her colleagues had laughed at her, and had said she was dreaming foolishly as no woman has ever reached that position. That was her dream and she achieved it at the age of 36. Today, her dream has got another dimension to it. Leena Nair, the young achiever of HUL is likely be the new HR head of Unilever and will replace Douglas Baillie. Leena had shifted from India to the London headquarters of the company three years ago as its global senior vice-president for leadership and organisation development.
Leena is credited for a number of HR interventions in HUL. Within a month of her being made the HR Director India, she extended the maternity policy, introduced the flexibility policy to work out of home. All these, she had said to People Matters, “came from the belief that we need to make life for women and men easier. When I joined HUL, women comprised only 3 per cent of the workforce there. Today, 30% of employees are women.”
A graduate from XLRI, Jamshedpur, she had joined HUL in 1992 as a summer trainee and was one of the first women managers to opt for a factory stint, in the industrial belt of Taloja. She believes gender issue is a business issue and not a women’s issue. Leena had earlier said, “To bring balance to the numbers, you have to change the men, you have to change the women, and you have to change the culture. We need all three to happen for progress. The mistake we do is that we try to work on the women, we work on making them assertive and confident; they are not the problem, the culture is not accommodating of their different style of working and the men need to be engaged for them to feel that this is an important issue for the business.”
Recently, Johnson & Johnson had hired Sumeet Salwan from Unilever as the human resource head for its consumer products division.