Leena Nair steps down as Unilever HR chief to join Chanel

Leena Nair steps down as Unilever HR chief to join Chanel

The first female and youngest Chief Human Resources Officer CHRO at FMCG major Unilever Leena Nair stepped down to join French luxury fashion group Chanel as Global CEO. She will be based in London. In January 2022, Unilever announced that Leena Nair, CHRO, decided to leave the company to pursue a new career opportunity as Global Chief Executive Officer, Chanel Ltd.

I will always be a proud advocate of Unilever's ambition to make sustainable living commonplace. I am overwhelmed by the love and support of my appointment as Chanel CEO. Please trust that I am reading every comment, even if I don't reply to everyone individually, Nair tweeted.

Leena Nair was associated with Unilever for 30 years and started working as a management trainee in the company in 1992. After this she assumed positions such as Factory Personnel Manager of Lipton India from 1993 -- 96, Employee Relations Manager at HUL from 1996 -- 97, Management Development Planning Manager of HUL from 1997 -- 2000, HR Manager of Home and Personal Care India from 2003 -- 04, General Manager HR of Home and Personal Care India and General Manager of HR IND in 2006, as per her LinkedIn profile.

As per her profile, Nair was appointed General Manager of HPC and Foods and Head of Management Development from August 2006 -- May 2007, and she also held office as Executive Director, HUL and Human Resources VP, South Asia from June 2007 -- December 2012. She served from January 2013 -- February 2, 16 as Unilever SVP of Leadership and Organisation Development and Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion. She was appointed in March 2016 as Unilever's CHRO and will leave this post in January 2022 to hold the reigns in Chanel as global CEO.

During her tenure as Unilever's CHRO, she undertook initiatives like formulating a four-pillar Wellbeing Framework to address physical, mental, emotional and purposeful wellbeing for employees in 2014. Nair believes that the wellbeing of employees is at the heart of any organisation's success.

During her tenure, Unilever gave its employees a day off as a gesture of thanks for their service in the trying times of the coronaviruses epidemic under the 2020 Global Day of Thanks. Today, there will be no team calls, no emails, no work for many of us at Unilever. She said that those who can't take today because they are keeping things running will get an additional day off before the end of 2020.

In January 2021 they also launched The Global Business Collaboration for Better Workplace Mental Health. The initiative is led by Unilever, Salesforce, HSBC, Deloitte, Clifford Chance and BHP. Under this collaboration, Unilever focused on 3 key areas, creating a platform for collaboration to address mental health concerns in the workplace, raising awareness of the importance of mental health at workplace and creating a roadmap to change the prevailing situation.

Due to Nair's vision, Unilever has also rolled out two mental health tools, the Headspace and Employee Assistance Program, to survey and monitor their employees' mental health. Unilever employees have free access to Headspace and they spent 15,000 hours developing mindfulness using the app. In 2020, the Employee Assistance Programme or EAP saw a more than 10 percent increase in family members accessing the service. The company also has an annual wellbeing survey, annual employee engagement survey and monthly unipulse checks.

In another LinkedIn post, Nair advised HR professionals to walk with swagger because it is a crucial part of running a successful business. Nair wrote in her post, "I always tell HR people that they need to HR is no longer a backroom department, it is a key part of running a successful business." If you want to support your people, you need to understand how the business works, and you need to be visible within the business.