Data doing good for our communities and the planet
Unilever’s Data for Good team allows our analysts to spend time working on the projects closest to their hearts and shows how data analysis can make a difference.
At Unilever, we have teams of analysts working hard to process the dizzying amounts of data we receive from our consumers each day. Our aim is to understand their wants and needs better, so we can provide the best products and services possible.
But we know that data analysis presents enormous opportunities beyond consumer insights. That is why Unilever’s CMI People Data Centre (PDC) created the Data for Good team. The team allows our analysts space to spend 10% of their working week using their skills and knowledge to give something back to the wider world.
Information is powerful
Since its creation, the Data for Good team has worked on a wide range of projects and the results highlight the many ways data analysis can make a practical difference to our everyday lives.
Christi Kobierecka, the global Social Business Analytics team lead for Home Care was one of the people who helped set up the Data for Good team.
"I still remember when I had the very first conversation about doing more to support societal issues,” she says. “It was about four years ago. A group of like-minded individuals had gathered and started discussing ways of supporting social causes in the PDC.
“Because what we do is amazing – we have access to a wide variety of datasets that we use to analyse consumer behaviour. So why not use these capabilities to unlock insights that can help communities and improve the wellbeing of people both inside and outside Unilever? As a result, we put together a small group of passionate individuals to work on the idea and Data for Good was born.”
Place2Be (1 of 6)
Place2Be is a children’s charity working with children, schools and families across the UK. Their annual campaign, Children’s Mental Health Week, shines a spotlight on the importance of young people’s mental health.
For the last two years, the Data for Good team has worked with Place2Be to analyse social media around the campaign, creating a deep dive that shows where it is having most impact. Our support will help the charity focus in years to come, to ensure they are reaching as many children and families as possible to let them know that they aren’t alone.
Grow Asia (2 of 6)
Despite accounting for labour force, women farmers are often subject to discrimination, being denied a voice in decision-making bodies and missing out on the access to credit and financial services they are entitled to.
Set up by the World Economic Forum, Grow Asia is creating ways to increase agricultural productivity, profitability and environmental sustainability in south-east Asia. The Data for Good team is using social listening tools to support Grow Asia, exploring the digital barriers faced by women farmers in Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines and providing insights to help overcome them.
Unmute (3 of 6)
We wanted to understand the issue of domestic violence from the perspective of the victims and their families, so we could identify the best places to offer help and support to end the cycle of abuse.
The Data for Good team used social listening tools, internet search data and desk research to track how people are talking about domestic violence. Once this data was captured, we could analyse it, to understand where people are seeking help and the type of help they need
Talk it Out (4 of 6)
According to WHO, nearly two-thirds of people with a known mental disorder never seek help from a health professional, due to fear of stigma, discrimination or lack of access. The Talk it Out app was created to give people a safe space to explore their subconscious thoughts and emotions through guided exercises, because talking about our problems can help make them feel more manageable.
Our Data for Good team worked with Talk it Out to help shape, deliver and analyse the results of a research trial with the NHS. The insights they delivered helped to prove that the app not only helped people to feel better, it also did so far more quickly than anyone had predicted.
ED&I (5 of 6)
Unilever wants to be the No.1 preferred employer among people with disabilities. We’re already working hard to make this happen by ensuring all Unilever offices are 100% accessible by 2025, creating an internal global network for employees with disabilities and their allies and offering internal training to build a more inclusive culture across the board. But we know we can do better.
Our Data for Good team did a deep dive on social media, internal channels and industry best practices to understand disability to gain insights which resulted in actionable recommendations and practical changes to help us become a more disability-confident company.
TERN (6 of 6)
The Entrepreneurial Refugee Network (TERN) works with people who arrived in the UK as refugees, to help them get back into business, and figure out how to remove some of the barriers they face when entering the job market.
Their programme helps to develop their business ideas, as well as offering entrepreneurship training, mentoring and part-time employment. The Data for Good team ran social media and search workshops as part of this work, sharing their knowledge and skills to help these entrepreneurs learn how data can help develop their businesses.
Creating inclusivity and supporting wellbeing
Internally, we have been using data to try to ensure that, as a business, we are as inclusive and ethical as possible. For example, we wanted to identify any potential barriers faced by employees with disabilities at Unilever, so the team did deep dives on social media and internal surveys as well as examining external reports and case studies.
They looked at examples of best practice around disability inclusion and used the analysis to create insights and recommendations to help us become a disability-confident company. The team also used research and analysis to support our , helping to shape our domestic violence policy.
Two of our key external projects focused on supporting better mental health. We worked with Place2Be, a children’s mental health charity, to monitor social media and provide insights on their biggest campaign of the year, to help them better understand and target their key audiences in the future.
We also collaborated on an NHS trial of Talk it Out, a free app that gives people a safe space to work through their thoughts and feelings using guided exercises. Our insights showed beyond doubt that users felt significantly happier and less anxious during the trial, which helped to move the project from pilot to launch.
The people behind the numbers
Social media gives us access to the largest focus group in the world and allows us to gather valuable insights. Analysing information drawn from social media platforms and internet channels, known as social listening, has been a key part of many of the projects.
Polina Dolgacheva is a Social Business Analyst working for the People Data Centre in Russia. Polina joined the Data for Good team to work on a project following the launch of our Unmute campaign on International Women’s Day in 2021.She saw the impact that social listening can have, in terms of providing a better understanding of the people behind the data.
“I think it’s amazing that from all these different numbers and letters and words and data points we can create this very clear picture that gives us so much information,” says Polina.
“When you work with search data or social media, it’s as if you talk to people face to face. It’s not just a statistic anymore, so it touches you on a much deeper and more personal level. That made us so much more motivated to do the best we can and provide the best, most granular insights we can, just because real people’s lives could be affected by this,” she adds.
Bringing focus to the bigger picture
We have used social insights externally too, to help highlight where charities might focus their efforts, to ensure they have the greatest possible impact.
In Asia, we helped to pinpoint the barriers female farmers face in growing their smallholdings. We’ve also run upskilling workshops for refugee entrepreneurs, teaching them how to become data experts themselves, so they can use social and search analytics to build their own businesses.
And the feedback we’ve had from our partners has been overwhelmingly positive. Ross Faulkner, Partner at Talk it Out, explains that having rigorous insights provided by the Data for Good team has helped them to grow their future plans and ambitions for the wellbeing and productivity app.
“To be able to use the insights as soundbites when we’re talking to people about why they should try the app, it’s such a brilliant short cut for us to be able to say, look, this is why this app is powerful to use and here is the data to show you. Not only do the numbers speak for themselves, they are also grounded in robust data,” says Ross.
“Those little nuggets and insights are the most powerful things, but to get to them takes so much work. That is what the Data for Good team did for us. They did such a brilliant job of getting us those really well-articulated insights.”
We’re always looking for new projects to collaborate on, big or small, so if you have something in mind that you would like to discuss with us, we’d love to hear from you.
“The beauty of our team is that we not only have a wealth of expertise from conducting market research in new ways but also a global footprint and the power of all the different minds that come with that,” says Deepa Patel, Data for Good lead.
“The team has the passion, determination and creativity to uncover valuable insights in every project and we can’t wait to put all of this together to help make a difference on even more projects in future.”
If you’d like to work with our Data for Good team, please send us a message telling us who you are and how we can help