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Paul Polman    

Business Leader; Climate & Equality Campaigner; Co-Author of “Net Positive”

Paul Polman works to accelerate action by business to tackle climate change and inequality. He believes, above all, that humanity will only overcome our greatest shared challenges through far-reaching systems change and bold new partnerships to deliver the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which he helped develop.

As CEO of Unilever (2009-2019), Polman demonstrated that business can profit through purpose, marrying a long-term, multi-stakeholder model with excellent financial performance. During Polman’s tenure, shareholders saw their returns increase by 290% while the company consistently ranked 1st in the world for sustainability and as one of best places to work.

Today Polman works across a range of organizations and initiatives to help speed the global action needed to regenerate our planet, renew our economies and unite our societies. He helps business move further and faster on these ambitions, including through his work with Systemiq and through mobilizing private equity.

He helps drive bold new coalitions within industries such as fashion and food, as well as between the private sector, government and civil society, including through his work leading the UN Global Compact and as an Ambassador for the Race to Zero and Race to Resilience.

Polman is also passionate about developing our next generation of leaders, which he does as chair of the Oxford University Saïd Business School, and through his work with INSEAD, IESE and the Boards of PRME and One Young World.

In 2021, Polman published his critically-acclaimed book with sustainability expert Andrew Winston, “Net Positive,” which sets out how to build companies which succeed by fixing the world’s problems, rather than creating them. He actively campaigns on a range of human rights issues, including promoting disability inclusion through the Valuable 500 and the Kilimanjaro Blind Trust, which he set up with his wife Kim.

Speech Topics

Net Positive: Courageous Leadership and Business as a Force for Good

This is a crucial moment for humanity. A ticking time bomb for our planet. Business leaders stand at a tipping point. Our current system is in crisis and we need new, courageous leadership to steer businesses that are good for people and planet, whilst remaining profitable. Paul Polman will outline the principles of Net Positive leadership and the personal, company and broader systems changes needed to reach a more sustainable and equitable planet.


Ex-Unilever CEO: Climate action will 'unlock economic growth ...
Former Unilever CEO Paul Polman tells Amanpour why investing in climate solutions could create "the growth story of the century."
Polman tells banks to step up; Schwab names names; Covid-19 ...
Paul Polman's harsh words for financial services. Paul Polman may have retired from his day job as Unilever's chief executive in 2018, but he has remained plenty ...
Paul Polman On Courageous CEOs And How Purpose Is The ...
We were both speaking at the annual National Confectioners Association conference - a gathering of all the key players in the candy business. Tall and genial, he ...

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