Every year, we recognise pioneering individuals within the company who have brought our values to life and truly embody what it means to be part of Unilever. Our 2019 Heroes with Impact have gone above and beyond their day-to-day jobs. Their stories paint a picture of passion, purpose and drive.
Poland is the second most homophobic country in the European Union. “LGBT+ people suffer physical or verbal abuse every day,” says Martyna Kaczmarek, Country Business Lead for Ben & Jerry’s, based in Warsaw.
Nowhere was the hostility towards the LGBT+ community more evident than in the capital’s Saviour Square where a rainbow of flowers installed to symbolise love and peace was vandalised not once but seven times.
A display of light, love and strength
Under Martyna’s leadership, Ben & Jerry’s partnered with two voluntary organisations, Milość Nie Wyklucza (which means ‘love does not exclude’) and the Fundacja Wolontariat Rowności (Rowności Volunteer Foundation) to develop an answer to this destruction.
The solution was a hologram, created using only water and light, which produced an unbreakable rainbow projected on the site of the old rainbow.
It was unveiled on the eve of the Pride celebrations on 8 June 2018. “It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life,” Martyna remembers. And she was not alone in her enthusiasm. “Proud of my city today,” said one of its first observers. “You cannot burn a real rainbow.”
Alongside wide media coverage, the unbreakable rainbow went on to win five awards at the Cannes Lions festival. But the recognition was just the icing on the cake for Martyna. “Through this rainbow display of light, love and strength, we’d like to show the LGBT+ community that their love is unbreakable and equal,” she says. “This commitment to equality is grounded in our company’s unshakeable belief that everyone deserves full and equal civil rights.”
Her commitment to full and equal rights for LGBT+ continues today. “I’m really hoping that we will be able to achieve marriage equality in Poland by 2025,” she says.
Highlighting the power of purpose in Martyna’s efforts, the judges acknowledged how “her tireless fight for a more inclusive society has been an incredible inspiration”.