We’re moving, we’re just not moving fast enough

We need urgent collective action. Five accelerators can transform the systems by which we live, work and play.

Create More Leaders

Paul Polman ranked #3 in the Thinkers50

Thinkers50 has announced Paul and his Net Positive co-author, Andrew Winston, as third in their 2023 Ranking. The ranking recognises and celebrates the legacy of thinkers whose lifetime’s work has a lasting influence on business and management.

Runaway climate change and rampant inequality threaten humanity and are costing a fortune. Here’s how Business can help lead us to a better future.

My Story

Business leader, climate and equalities campaigner.

You either make the dust, or you eat the dust.

I was one of six children born in the Netherlands. My mother was a teacher and my father had an administrative job in a tyre factory. They taught us the importance of working hard and the basic values of dignity, respect, equity and compassion.

I finished my graduate studies in America at the University of Cincinnati, which I left with dual degrees in economics and business studies. It’s where I had the good fortune to meet Kim, my wife and the mother of our three boys.

I worked for three great companies in the years that followed: Procter & Gamble, Nestle and Unilever – all built to last. I learnt the power of creating value through different business models driven by clear values, and I learnt that serving all your stakeholders – employees, customers, suppliers, local communities, the planet and even future generations – is the best way to also serve your shareholders and build a thriving company over the long-term.

I was CEO of Unilever between 2009-19. Working with a tremendous team, we showed that responsible business models can go hand-in-hand with strong performance, raising top and bottom line growth and increasing shareholder returns by 290% while the company consistently ranked first in the world for sustainability, and one of the best places to work.