Friday, February 3, 2012

What keeps Paul Polman up at night ?

Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, recently gave a very interesting interview reported in the Washington Post about the state of the Unilever business and outlooks for growth, the Euro, consumer spending and many other not-so-rosy aspects of doing business in 2012. Fortunately, despite the fact that all I thought I might hear about was growth, with Paul describing how every category of Unilever's business has grown despite facing issues including climate change (Japan earthquake, Thailand floods ) and the "Arab Spring" which stopped production etc, this was an interesting interview and I decided to invest 7.57 minutes in listening to the end. I am glad I did because at 7.04 minutes, the interviewer asks this question:

"If there is one thing that keeps you up at night, what would that be? Is is Europe, is it the potential slowdown in China? Is there any one big concern that keeps you up at night?
Paul Polman's response was: 

"Well, I always sleep fairly well - I think you have to in these type of jobs - but the one thing I keep thinking about is how can we attract the best talent. In most places, with results that we have seen growing from 38 billion Euros back to now 46 billion Euros, we are also becoming more and more  a desired employer in most of the places. Our Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, the model that we have put out there to actually contribute to the world versus continuing to take from the world, is incredibly energizing. What keeps me up at night is to be sure that everywhere we go, we are the desired employer for the best talent. If we get the best talent in the company, now and for years to come, I am very confident for the future, knowing that the best talent will figure out whatever challenges we will face. That's my priority."

So, HR Managers everywhere, there are three take-outs for you:
  • The top CEO priority is attracting and retaining the best talent.
  • Attracting and retaining the best talent is linked to sustainability vision and practice.
  • It is time for HR to wake up to CSR!

If you want to learn more about how to advance CSR for HR, join me at the CR for HR Professionals conference which I will be chairing next week in London (Feb 7th).

Hear the enlightened Paul Polman in this interview below:



elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainabilty Reporter, HR Professional, Author of CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices. Contact me via  on Twitter or via my website

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails