What Happens When You Integrate Employer Brand with Diversity & Inclusion

WRITTEN BY: Jörgen Sundberg

Your employer brand and diversity and inclusion initiatives may be managed by separate teams and guided by unique priorities. That doesn’t mean, however, that they’re most effective when siloed. Rather, both thrive when working in tandem.

Both employer brand and D&I play vital roles in attracting the best employees. Both foreground employee stories, shape company culture and inform its values. As Unilever’s Employer Brand Lead Zakiya Nashid puts it, uniting these efforts allows employees to “bring their whole selves to work.”

Unilever North America in particular has seen success merging its employer brand and D&I efforts, under Nashid’s leadership. This much-admired, transnational consumer goods brand illustrates what can happen when companies align employer brand and D&I.

Nurturing Talent Through Partnerships and Resource Groups

Partnerships, specifically with organizations that serve demographics underrepresented at your company, serve both D&I and recruitment needs. These kinds of collaborations expose you to new talent, new ways to invest in your employees, and new areas for growth.

At Unilever, those partnerships include the National Association of Black Accountants, National Society of Black Engineers, and Association for Latino Professionals for America. These partner organizations provide current employees with networking, education, and professional development opportunities.

In addition, as Nashid explains, “these types of partnerships help us lean into diverse talent pools.” Rather than having a purely internal conversation about improving employee engagement, Unilever has the opportunity to speak with outside leadership, listen, and learn.

Similarly, Unilever’s business resource groups have had a positive impact on its talent attraction, content strategy, and employee experience. BRGs like Black Excellence at Unilever, also headed by Nashid, help company leadership stay attuned to what matters most to its employees.

Serving Employer Brand and Diversity and Inclusion Through Content Campaigns

Storytelling is an essential ingredient of effective employer brand strategy—as is diversity and inclusion. “When we bring those stories to life, it’s always centered around D&I,” Nashid says of Unilever’s approach to employer brand content.

Nashid’s team saw this play out most recently during its Working Mother of the Year campaign. Employees nominated working mothers at Unilever they felt deserved special recognition for their exceptional commitment to both job and family, then honored a winner with the Working Mother of the Year Award.

The internal side of the campaign uplifted current employees and reinforced Unilever’s commitment to a diverse workforce. In addition, blog content featuring the nominees drove external engagement, showcasing those company values to the public, including prospective talent.

Guidance for Companies Investing in D&I

Nashid offers a word of advice for companies still developing their diversity and inclusion efforts. “Ensure there’s transparency around the journey you’re on,” she says. “If you’re not there yet in specific areas, make sure you’re transparent about that. Work with key partners and HR to continue to grow.”

Recently, Unilever has paid special attention to its own journey toward accessibility and inclusivity around disability. With guidance from a disability-focused BRG, the employer brand team has started a conversation around accessible web design. Currently, the team is standardizing the use of alt text, starting with its career website and employer brand social media content.

Unilever’s success with both employer brand and diversity and inclusion hasn’t come from treating one as a subsidiary of the other. Instead, integrating the two has created an inclusive workplace that both attracts diverse candidates and supports their wellbeing after they become members of the team. It’s an environment, Nashid says, where employees can be confident that “their voices matter, and their stories are celebrated.”

To follow Zakiya Nashid’s work in employer brand at Unilever North America, connect with her on LinkedIn. If you’re in search of help refining your employer value proposition and identifying the values and culture you want to create in your company, let’s talk.


Our newsletter is exclusively curated by our CEO, Jörgen Sundberg, for leaders who make decisions about talent. Subscribe for updates on The Employer Branding Podcast, new articles, eBooks, research and events we’re working on.


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