At Nestlé Across the Globe One Phrase Resounds Nestlé Values Its People

In the essence of our products lies a commitment to bringing people together – whether it’s over a cup of coffee, a hearty stew, or a batch of chocolate chip cookies. This ethos is reflected not just in what we create, but also in our workforce – the intricate webs of relationships and bonds they forge across continents. It’s deeply ingrained in our approach to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I), which centers on empowerment, fostering a culture of inclusion, and providing support.

This year marks a significant milestone for us, as over 46% of our management positions globally are now occupied by women, with 37.5% represented on our global Executive Board. As we approach International Women’s Day, we sought to elevate our conversations internally by collaborating with external partners. Teaming up with The Female Quotient, we spotlighted three remarkable female leaders from diverse backgrounds and roles around the world.

What unites these leaders is their unwavering commitment not only to building successful careers but also to leveraging their experiences to uplift others. Here are three pivotal insights they shared from their journeys:

  1. Embrace customization and personalization. A recurring theme emphasized by each leader is the importance of tailored solutions. True equity and inclusion – and consequently, enhanced retention and performance – necessitate personalized support and a willingness to listen to employees. Serena Aboutboul, head of Nestlé’s Nutrition business, stressed the significance of individualized approaches for leaders: “Standardized policies cannot address every need – personalize and customize.”

Reflecting on her early career in Brazil over 20 years ago, Serena recounted her experience navigating maternity leave. Recognizing that the conventional approach didn’t suit her circumstances, she approached her supervisor with a proposal for a hybrid arrangement combining part-time, vacation, and full-time work, extending well beyond the standard leave. “Though met with resistance for deviating from the norm, they eventually agreed to an unconventional solution. This flexibility allowed me to return in a manner that suited my needs,” Serena explained. Such adaptability demanded not only flexibility from the company but also courage and resourcefulness from Serena to forge the optimal solution

Now, Nestlé has implemented a gender-neutral parental support policy, offering a minimum of six months of leave for primary caretakers worldwide (with 18 weeks paid), coupled with various options such as job sharing, flex-return/part-time, and secondary caregiver support. Drawing from valuable employee feedback, markets are also expanding their flexibility initiatives to encompass a broader spectrum of needs, including caretaking for aging or ill family members, fertility or adoption assistance, support for gender transition, continuing education, and sabbaticals.

Maxine Lim, Communications Manager for Asia, Africa, and Oceania, champions diversity in career trajectories, asserting, “Success need not conform to a singular mold – it requires courage and authenticity.” She identifies allyship as a consistent hallmark of successful leadership, emphasizing, “Above all, it means advocating for those around you.”

Empowering Others Our leaders are fervent advocates for coaching, mentorship, sponsorship, and allyship as catalysts for nurturing inclusive cultures and fostering opportunities.

Stephanie Pullings-Hart, Nestlé’s Head of Operations and a recent addition to the executive board, underscores the collective responsibility, stating, “It’s incumbent upon each of us – each one, reach one. Bring someone alongside you. Share your insights. While I may be the first female Head of Operations at Nestlé, I won’t be the last.” Maxine reflects on the significance of support during pivotal career transitions, asserting, “Having champions and allies is crucial for success when transitioning into a new work environment. Moving from Southeast Asia to Switzerland presented numerous contextual challenges. It takes advocates and allies to create an environment conducive to learning and leading confidently.”

Self-Care Matters Serena, leading Nestlé’s nutrition business, offers a unique perspective on the multifaceted roles women often fulfill globally. “Working in a purpose-driven field, unlocking the potential of nutrition to enhance health and well-being, is truly fulfilling. A healthy woman contributes to strong families, companies, and even nations.”

However, Serena acknowledges the challenges women face in prioritizing their well-being amidst numerous demands. “Women must prioritize self-care amidst myriad responsibilities and pressures. Our health is paramount.”

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