Paul Polman tells rapt audience to work for people whose values mirror their own

4/12/2011 10:06:00 AM

CLICK FOR LINK TO FULL VIDEO: Johnson's 2011 Durland lecturer, Unilever's CEO explained his organization's commitment to thoughtful & responsible business practices


At the 2011 Lew Durland Memorial Lecture, the CEO of Unilever, Paul Polman, spoke to a full house of Johnson and Cornell students, staff and faculty, April 11 in Ives Hall on the Cornell University campus.

In describing the necessity and commitment of his organization to engage in globally responsible business practices, Polman said that while the food and detergent giant must increase its overall output due to vastly increasing global demand, it will simultaneously be reducing its overall impact on the environment.  He described the need for all organizations to work as partners within an economy versus simply being drivers OF the economy.

Polman also spoke of the unorthodox move he made when first becoming CEO to do away with providing guidance for investors.  With a dry wit he said that he knew a modern-day CEO's time in office might be very short, so he had better make his boldest moves right out of the gate.  After hearing of his decision, billionaire businessman and philanthoper, Warren Buffett sent him a personal note lauding the move and stating that he too has never provided Wall Street with guidance.

Unilever has also stopped reporting on a quarterly basis as of this year because, as Polman stated, he wants his stakeholders (including shareholders) to look at Unilever's success long-term not simply quarter to quarter.

He hopes Unilever will continue to be a model of sustainability for other corporations, particularly those looking to expand to emerging markets such as Brazil, Russia, Indonesia, China and South Africa (the "BRICS").

The full video of Polman's talk is now available HERE
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