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Unilever and long-term actions

April 5, 2011


A couple of days back, I wrote a piece challenging agencies to think about long-term actions.

So, it was very timely that today I got an email from McKinsey highlighting their thought pieces on Long Term Capitalism.

Amongst the articles, was a piece by Paul Polman, Unilever’s CEO encouraging business to be more long-term in its thinking.

He suggests that business needs to think about a new model; Unilever has already announced to the financial community that it doesn’t want to be judged on quarterly profit performance and no longer reports on this basis, it has also shifted it’s internal performance metrics around long-term measures.

Polman believes this new model demands a new type of thinking that’s prepared to face up to the big challenges that lie ahead.

In his piece, Polman recognizes the challenges that stem from population growth in the developing world and its impact on resources and energy use.

He encourages to companies to bring sustainable thinking into the center of their organization so they can be more efficient and better manage expensive resources.

In addition, he believes that companies need to collaborate with third parties like NGOs to ensure there’s both accountability and action to ensure that business can truly make an impact.

It’s clear that the challenges that lie ahead are enormous and those who don’t have what it takes might easily want to shy away.

Sadly, the penalty for ignorance in inaction will not only harm the planet, it will mean your business and brands won’t be able to compete for resources. This is a big problem, but there’s a consumer angle as well, because they are going to notice it  in their pocket books, or when they search for your “values” and can’t find them anywhere.

Posted by Ed Cotton

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