Paul Polman: ‘Businesses cannot succeed in societies that fail’

July 22, 2020 by  
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Paul Polman: ‘Businesses cannot succeed in societies that fail’ Deonna Anderson Wed, 07/22/2020 – 01:30 As people across the United States and the world grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic and calls for racial justice, the business community has an integral role to play in both the dialogue and the solutions to these social issues. Last week, former Unilever CEO Paul Polman urged business leaders to be courageous in their response. “What COVID has done is a few things that we weren’t really able to get across until then. COVID has made clear that there cannot be healthy people on an unhealthy planet,” said Polman during his webcast conversation with Joel Makower, co-founder and executive editor of GreenBiz. “People are understanding how much more the relationships between biodiversity, climate, inequality — may I add racial tension to that? And I think it is not surprising that more people are asking now for a more holistic solution.” He noted that citizens, employees and executives alike want better solutions. Polman is co-founder and chairman of Imagine , a “for-benefit” organization and foundation, which he started in 2019 with Valerie Keller, CEO for the organization; Jeff Seabright, former chief sustainability officer of Unilever; and Kees Kruythoff, chairman and CEO of the Livekindly Company. Imagine’s mission is to mobilize business leaders to tackle climate change and global inequality.  During the webcast, Polman noted that one reason he co-founded Imagine was to help break down obstacles for companies trying to deliver on their sustainability commitments. “It’s difficult for individual companies now to do what the public at large expects from them. They might not have the skill. They might not have the capabilities. They might have the government working against them with policies, which still is the case in many places,” Polman said. “What we’re focused on now is, ‘Can we bring these CEOs together, at industry level, across value chains to make them more courageous leaders to drive these transitions faster?’”  Polman has spent decades at the helm of big corporations — in various roles at P&G and most recently as CEO of Unilever — and he’s known for his optimism.  In Polman’s work at Imagine, he aims to bring together key stakeholders who can make a big impact in their industries. “We carefully select the industries that we believe have the biggest impact on the Sustainable Development Goals, especially around climate change and inequality,” Polman said of Imagine, noting that the organization has started with the fashion industry and is starting to make traction in the food and finance industries. The COVID-19 pandemic puts Imagine’s efforts in the travel industry on hold. While Imagine is choosy for now about which organizations it is working with, Polman said there will be room for more collaborators in the future. “As these initiatives become bigger, we can include others in the circle, so to speak,” he noted. In the meantime, here are three major takeaways from last week’s conversation between Polman and Makower.  1. Companies that are focused on ESG performance are better off. “I think now it is clear … that if you want to maximize your shareholder return, it leads you automatically to a more responsible ESG, multi-stakeholder type business model,” Polman said. “That’s what the numbers keep telling us, and that’s also where the fiduciary duty is starting to move to.” In addition to meeting the expectations of financial stakeholders, there is also the need for companies to meet the needs of their employees. Right now, in particular, there’s an enormous tension within companies because employees want their C-suites to deliver on their promises — for example, truly embedding diversity and inclusion throughout their work in a way that is intentional and sustained. Companies that have not invested in their employees or their value chains “see that their relationships are broken now,” Polman said. “These are moments of truth where I think you can see what right corporate behavior leads to and what wrong corporate behavior leads to.” 2. Our social model is broken. The people who are most marginalized such as communities of color and those working in service industries have suffered most from the COVID-19 pandemic. Polman noted that people are starting to realize the importance of social cohesion. Moreover, their awareness about our broken systems is increasing. People in lower paid jobs “have disproportionately paid for this crisis and yet these are the people that we need the most,” he said. “These are the people that provide us healthcare, transport, agricultural products and the list goes on.” What COVID has done is a few things that we weren’t really able to get across until then. COVID has made clear that there cannot be healthy people on an unhealthy planet. For some, including government officials and corporate leaders, there’s a sense of urgency to create a better, greener economy. Polman notes that this push is being driven by corporate leaders’ deep understanding that “businesses cannot succeed in societies that fail.” There continues to be a need to operate within our planetary boundaries and move to a more inclusive, sustainable form of capitalism, Polman said. 3. The real Black Swan has been the lack of leadership. The coronavirus pandemic has done a lot of damage, but Polman said that government leaders, their lack of leadership and inability to work together have been the major reason for the extent of the crisis. Polman noted that governments around the world are trying to put rescue packages in place that could help with the “greening” of society. But that’s not enough. “The other half still needs to catch on,” he said. In addition to discussing government leadership, Polman said corporate leaders must show courage. That leadership needs to be moral and human, he said, in order to not repeat the mistakes of the past. For example, Polman pointed to the 2008 financial crisis in which the U.S. federal government rescued the wealthy but left others behind to figure it out on their own. “It needs to be a leadership with more empathy and more compassion,” Polman said. At the end of the webcast, this question was asked: At a moment in time when all hope feels lost, how can a person stay hopeful? “I’m a prisoner of hope. And the second thing is I believe in the goodness of humanity,” Polman answered. “I’m hopeful for the young people because they have a higher sense of purpose and they’re going to play a bigger role. And I’m actually hopeful because of us having waited so long, the cost of inaction is now clearly higher. … And we need to translate [the hope] into action and resources.” Pull Quote What COVID has done is a few things that we weren’t really able to get across until then. COVID has made clear that there cannot be healthy people on an unhealthy planet. Topics Leadership Social Justice Corporate Social Responsibility Racial Justice Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever, speaking during the World Economic Forum panel on ending poverty through gender parity at Davos on January, 24 2015. Source:   Paul Kagame Flickr Paul Kagame Close Authorship

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Paul Polman: ‘Businesses cannot succeed in societies that fail’

Transform to Net Zero: Microsoft, Nike, Starbucks team up on corporate climate alliance

July 22, 2020 by  
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Transform to Net Zero: Microsoft, Nike, Starbucks team up on corporate climate alliance Cecilia Keating Wed, 07/22/2020 – 00:20 A clutch of major multinational corporates including Microsoft, Danone, Nike, Unilever, Starbucks and Mercedes-Benz together have launched a new forum dedicated to sharing resources, tactics and strategies aimed at speeding up the business community’s transition to net zero.  The Transform to Net Zero initiative launched Tuesday will see members of the coalition — which also include Danish shipping giant Maersk, Indian information technology company Wipro and Brazilian beauty company Natura & Co — collaborate on research, guidance and roadmaps to help businesses slash their carbon emissions in line with a 1.5 degrees Celsius global warming trajectory. The group, which expects to complete its work by 2025, aims to encourage businesses around the world to adopt science-based climate targets that address the environmental impact of their full value chains, sometimes known as Scope 3 emissions. They also have committed to share information on investing in carbon-reduction technologies and to collectively push for public policies that accelerate the net zero transition. Microsoft president Brad Smith said that the initiative would help companies at all stages of their decarbonization journey turn climate commitments into “real progress” towards net zero. The business world of the future cannot look like it does now. “No one company can address the climate crisis alone,” he added. “That’s why leading companies are developing and sharing best practices, research, and learnings to help everyone move forward.”  The nonprofit business network BSR is serving as the initiative’s secretariat and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is also assisting with the initiate as the single non-corporate member. EDF president Fred Krupp said that the initiative held “huge potential” to address growing disparities between corporate talk and action on climate change. “The new initiative holds tremendous potential for closing these gaps,” he said. “Especially if other businesses follow in the coalition’s footsteps, leading by example and using the most powerful tool that companies have for fighting climate change: their political influence.”  The founding members confirmed that they would make all findings public and encouraged other companies to sign up over the weeks, months and years to come. Many founding members of the Transform to Net Zero initiative already have set their sights on achieving net zero emissions. Consumer goods giant Unilever has committed to achieving net zero across its value chain by 2039 while Microsoft has committed to an industry-leading goal of becoming “carbon negative ” by 2030, replacing more carbon into the atmosphere that it generates.  Meanwhile Unilever CEO Alan Jope also welcomed the launch of the new forum. “The business world of the future cannot look like it does now; in addition to decarbonization, a full system transformation is needed,” he said. “That why we’re pleased to join other leading businesses as a founding member of Transform to Net Zero so we can work together and accelerate the strategic shift that is needed to achieve net zero emissions.” Pull Quote The business world of the future cannot look like it does now. Topics Commitments & Goals BusinessGreen Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Illustration of a smokestack Shutterstock cubicidea Close Authorship

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Transform to Net Zero: Microsoft, Nike, Starbucks team up on corporate climate alliance

Unilever To Add Carbon Footprint Information on Packaging

July 16, 2020 by  
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Unilever, the industrial giant behind the Seventh Generation, Dove, Ben … The post Unilever To Add Carbon Footprint Information on Packaging appeared first on Earth 911.

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Where Unilever’s product labeling initiative could have a huge impact

June 26, 2020 by  
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Where Unilever’s product labeling initiative could have a huge impact Jim Giles Fri, 06/26/2020 – 01:00 One of the most significant projects in sustainable food in 2020 was unveiled last week. The news is important partly because of the company involved: CPG behemoth Unilever, which reaches 2.5 billion consumers every day through 400 brands, which range from Ben & Jerry’s to Hellmann’s and appear on shelves in 190 countries.  The other reason is that the plan is genuinely ambitious . The company is committing to net-zero emissions from all products by 2039, spending $1 billion on climate and nature projects over 10 years, and planning on labeling each of its products with information about the carbon emitted in the product’s creation. This last point is particularly significant. Consumers, especially younger adults, consistently say that climate concerns influence their purchasing. Yet this influence is diluted because most people have little insight into the emissions linked to specific products. Clearly communicating emissions on every product could leverage those concerns in a scalable way, boosting sales of low-carbon products and punishing emissions-heavy options. So will Unilever’s labeling decision change the way people shop? We can’t say for sure, because most consumers have never seen a carbon label. But there’s evidence for optimism. Clearly communicating emissions on every product could leverage those concerns in a scalable way, boosting sales of low-carbon products and punishing emissions-heavy options. There’s data on the impact of other kinds of labels, for instance. Over the past five years, several countries, including Chile, Mexico and Israel, have attached health warnings to sodas and other sugary beverages. A meta-analysis of 23 studies of these initiatives , released last month, showed the labels work: Consumers who see them are less likely to purchase high-sugar drinks. When carbon labels have been deployed, usually in small experiments, they also seem to work. Researchers at Chalmers Technological University in Sweden, for example, looked at the impact of emissions information on meal choices at their institution’s cafeteria. Sales of high-carbon meat dishes fell by almost 5 percent — a modest drop, but significant for an initial experiment based on a simple intervention.  A final reason for optimism is that while Unilever is by far the biggest food company to roll out carbon labels, it is not alone. Oatly and Quorn recently announced plans to start displaying carbon footprint data on products. Twelve food and beverage brands also have earned the new Climate Neutral certification and began displaying the associated label. Put all that together, and it looks like Unilever’s move could trigger structural change. But before I get carried away, let’s look at two factors that could undermine its impact. First up is the label itself. In an email, Rebecca Marmot, Unilever’s CSO, told me that her company is focusing on collecting footprint data and will turn to the labels once that’s in place. How Unilever eventually communicates carbon levels will be critical. How big will the label be? Where will it appear? Will consumers be able to make sense of it? It won’t be an easy challenge. Space on food packaging is extremely tight, and consumers are already exposed to multiple labels relating to sustainability. (457, by one count ). The second issue is cost. Of those 457 labels, organic is probably the most well known. Demand for organic food has shown double-digit growth in many recent years, yet it still accounts for around only 5 percent of U.S. food sales and less than 1 percent of planted acreage. Cost is critical here: Surveys show that organic food has a 7.5 percent premium, with some goods, including milk, eggs and bread, costing close to twice as much.  This is a reminder that for many consumers, cost trumps environmental concerns. In a way, though, that’s what makes the Unilever announcement so exciting. We’re talking here about the company behind Knorr, Lipton and Magnum. These are not niche brands targeted at affluent, sustainability-minded consumers willing to pay more. By introducing carbon labeling into everyday products found in the biggest chains and the smallest corner stores, Unilever is testing whether environmental concerns resonate with a much, much larger segment of consumers. This article was adapted from the GreenBiz Food Weekly newsletter. Sign up here to receive your own free subscription. Pull Quote Clearly communicating emissions on every product could leverage those concerns in a scalable way, boosting sales of low-carbon products and punishing emissions-heavy options. Topics Food & Agriculture Marketing & Communication Food & Agriculture Featured Column Foodstuff Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Where Unilever’s product labeling initiative could have a huge impact

Where Unilever’s product labeling initiative could have a huge impact

June 26, 2020 by  
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Where Unilever’s product labeling initiative could have a huge impact Jim Giles Fri, 06/26/2020 – 01:00 One of the most significant projects in sustainable food in 2020 was unveiled last week. The news is important partly because of the company involved: CPG behemoth Unilever, which reaches 2.5 billion consumers every day through 400 brands, which range from Ben & Jerry’s to Hellmann’s and appear on shelves in 190 countries.  The other reason is that the plan is genuinely ambitious . The company is committing to net-zero emissions from all products by 2039, spending $1 billion on climate and nature projects over 10 years, and planning on labeling each of its products with information about the carbon emitted in the product’s creation. This last point is particularly significant. Consumers, especially younger adults, consistently say that climate concerns influence their purchasing. Yet this influence is diluted because most people have little insight into the emissions linked to specific products. Clearly communicating emissions on every product could leverage those concerns in a scalable way, boosting sales of low-carbon products and punishing emissions-heavy options. So will Unilever’s labeling decision change the way people shop? We can’t say for sure, because most consumers have never seen a carbon label. But there’s evidence for optimism. Clearly communicating emissions on every product could leverage those concerns in a scalable way, boosting sales of low-carbon products and punishing emissions-heavy options. There’s data on the impact of other kinds of labels, for instance. Over the past five years, several countries, including Chile, Mexico and Israel, have attached health warnings to sodas and other sugary beverages. A meta-analysis of 23 studies of these initiatives , released last month, showed the labels work: Consumers who see them are less likely to purchase high-sugar drinks. When carbon labels have been deployed, usually in small experiments, they also seem to work. Researchers at Chalmers Technological University in Sweden, for example, looked at the impact of emissions information on meal choices at their institution’s cafeteria. Sales of high-carbon meat dishes fell by almost 5 percent — a modest drop, but significant for an initial experiment based on a simple intervention.  A final reason for optimism is that while Unilever is by far the biggest food company to roll out carbon labels, it is not alone. Oatly and Quorn recently announced plans to start displaying carbon footprint data on products. Twelve food and beverage brands also have earned the new Climate Neutral certification and began displaying the associated label. Put all that together, and it looks like Unilever’s move could trigger structural change. But before I get carried away, let’s look at two factors that could undermine its impact. First up is the label itself. In an email, Rebecca Marmot, Unilever’s CSO, told me that her company is focusing on collecting footprint data and will turn to the labels once that’s in place. How Unilever eventually communicates carbon levels will be critical. How big will the label be? Where will it appear? Will consumers be able to make sense of it? It won’t be an easy challenge. Space on food packaging is extremely tight, and consumers are already exposed to multiple labels relating to sustainability. (457, by one count ). The second issue is cost. Of those 457 labels, organic is probably the most well known. Demand for organic food has shown double-digit growth in many recent years, yet it still accounts for around only 5 percent of U.S. food sales and less than 1 percent of planted acreage. Cost is critical here: Surveys show that organic food has a 7.5 percent premium, with some goods, including milk, eggs and bread, costing close to twice as much.  This is a reminder that for many consumers, cost trumps environmental concerns. In a way, though, that’s what makes the Unilever announcement so exciting. We’re talking here about the company behind Knorr, Lipton and Magnum. These are not niche brands targeted at affluent, sustainability-minded consumers willing to pay more. By introducing carbon labeling into everyday products found in the biggest chains and the smallest corner stores, Unilever is testing whether environmental concerns resonate with a much, much larger segment of consumers. This article was adapted from the GreenBiz Food Weekly newsletter. Sign up here to receive your own free subscription. Pull Quote Clearly communicating emissions on every product could leverage those concerns in a scalable way, boosting sales of low-carbon products and punishing emissions-heavy options. Topics Food & Agriculture Marketing & Communication Food & Agriculture Featured Column Foodstuff Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Where Unilever’s product labeling initiative could have a huge impact

Leaders from Unilever, WWF, others reflect on what’s changed since the first Earth Day

April 22, 2020 by  
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The CEOs of Unilever, Trane and West Rock and other corporate sustainability leaders convened virtually last week for a virtual edition of the Yale Business Sustainability Summit. Here are key themes that stood out from the discussion.

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Leaders from Unilever, WWF, others reflect on what’s changed since the first Earth Day

Kamillah Knight, Beric Alleyne and Jyoti Chopra: The diversity, equity and inclusion imperative

February 25, 2020 by  
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MGM’s Chief Diversity and Sustainability Officer, Jyoti Chopra; eBay’s director of diversity and inclusion, Beric Alleyne; and Unilever NA’s diversity and inclusion lead and GreenBiz 30 Under 30 honoree, Kamillah Knight share advice for how they champion inclusivity and equity within their own organization and within the communities in which they do business. From GreenBiz 20.

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Kamillah Knight, Beric Alleyne and Jyoti Chopra: The diversity, equity and inclusion imperative

Why stakeholders are raising the pressure on US business leaders to address climate

January 10, 2020 by  
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EDF released its annual survey of perceptions of environmental impact from 600 business leaders in retail, manufacturing, energy, technology and finance.

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Why stakeholders are raising the pressure on US business leaders to address climate

A decade of covering the intersection of sustainability, careers and human resources

January 10, 2020 by  
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What’s changed in the 10 years headhunter Ellen Weinreb has been writing for GreenBiz.

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A decade of covering the intersection of sustainability, careers and human resources

5 priorities to ensure climate action benefits low-income and disadvantaged groups

January 10, 2020 by  
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We can’t leave anyone behind as we transition to a clean economy.

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