Top 100 Paul Polman Quotes of 2020

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“Climate change is sometimes misunderstood as being about changes in the weather. In reality, it is about changes in our very way of life.”― Paul Polman

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“The basic skills of leaders are always the same: be driven by a deeper purpose, be a human being, have a passion for what you do, and it’s also about hard work and ethics.”― Paul Polman


“If we tackle deforestation in the right way, the benefits will be far-reaching – greater food security, improved livelihoods for millions of small farmers and indigenous people, more prosperous rural economies, and above all, a more stable climate.”― Paul Polman


“Looking at the world through a sustainability lens not only helps us ‘future proof’ our supply chain, it also fuels innovation and drives brand growth.”― Paul Polman


“Working together on solving something requires a high level of humility and a high level of self-awareness.”― Paul Polman


“Safe working conditions, fair wages, protection from forced labor, and freedom from harassment and discrimination – these must become standard global operating conditions.”― Paul Polman


“There are billions of people in the world who deserve the better quality of life that products such as soap, shampoo, and clean drinking water can provide.”― Paul Polman


“Our political leaders have great responsibilities, but as with many situations in life, people often rise or fall to meet your expectations. Our responsibility as citizens is to expect our leaders to lead and to give them enough support so that they may do so.”― Paul Polman


“The commitment to put an end to illegal deforestation and develop sustainable alternatives for commodities like palm oil and soy, for example, is an inspiring illustration of what can be achieved when governments and industry partners come together determined to bring about transformational market-wide changes.”― Paul Polman


“More and more businesses are seeing the potential of a more sustainable business model, driven both by the firm belief that business can be a force for good and by the realization that the cost of inaction often exceeds the cost of action – notably when it comes to the growing threat of climate change and water scarcity.”― Paul Polman


“I don’t subscribe to, ‘Here are the top ten tips to successful leadership,’ or, ‘How to learn leadership in ten minutes.’ A leader is someone who gives positive energy to others which then results in a better change than would have happened. I think everyone is a leader.”― Paul Polman


“Renewable energy could reduce emissions but also create jobs and improve public health.”― Paul Polman


“Forest nations willing to do more than their fair share to solve the climate crisis should be rewarded through results-based payments.”― Paul Polman


“Leadership is not a contest of likeability. Leadership often boils down to making the tougher choices. You are not in a popularity contest.”― Paul Polman


“I grew up in a small town in the Netherlands which, for years, had been a center of textile production.”― Paul Polman


“Large-scale deforestation can be prevented while increasing food production through better, smarter agriculture.”― Paul Polman


“Empowering women is one of the most important things we – and indeed, every business – can do.”― Paul Polman


“Unilever brings together the resources and experience of a multinational company alongside our deep local roots, which enables us to grow a genuinely African consumer goods business.”― Paul Polman


“Practically, systemic thinking can be used to identify problems, analyze their boundaries, design strategies and policy interventions, forecast and measure their expected impacts, implement them, and monitor and evaluate their successes and failures.”― Paul Polman


“Sustainability makes good business sense, and we’re all on the same team at the end of the day. That’s the truth about the human condition.”― Paul Polman


“We can no longer pretend that business is immune from the rising tide of environmental or social challenges or that companies can create value in isolation from the communities of which they are a part.”― Paul Polman


“System-wide changes rely on a critical mass of interested parties, all willing to enter into deep partnerships and collaborations, founded on new levels of trust and a commitment to action, not debate.”― Paul Polman


“If we all act together – business, governments, NGOs and citizens and, especially, the young – just imagine the good we could create.”― Paul Polman

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“My own fear, if I have one myself, is a fear of being obsolete. This is a world that changes very fast, and one of the main human desires is to belong to, to be part of, something. It’s probably one of our greatest needs next to oxygen.”― Paul Polman


“We cannot eliminate poverty without enabling developing countries to engage more people in economic activity that use natural resources, and we cannot resolve runaway climate change without creating wealth in a more equitable and less carbon intensive way.”― Paul Polman


“The great challenge of the 21st century is to provide good standards of living for 7 billion people without depleting the earth’s resources or running up massive levels of public debt. To achieve this, government and business alike will need to find new models of growth that are in both environmental and economic balance.”― Paul Polman


“The moral case for gender equality is obvious. It should not need any explanation.”― Paul Polman


“When we empower women, society benefits, grows, and thrives.”― Paul Polman


“We need new, dynamic models for growth through the sharing economy, using big data to unlock new insights and adopting closed-loop cycles.”― Paul Polman


“There are some basic human needs that are the same. Everybody wants to succeed.”― Paul Polman


“It’s easy to be a short-term hero. It is very easy for me to get tremendous results very short term, get that translated into compensation, and be off sailing in the Bahamas. But the goal for this company – and it’s very difficult to do – the goal is to follow a four- or five-year process.”― Paul Polman


“I believe that the financial crisis of 2008/9 exposed more a lack of ethics and morality – especially by the financial sector – rather than a problem of regulation or criminality. There were, of course, regulatory lessons to be learned, but at heart, there was a collective loss of our moral compass.”― Paul Polman


“The world faces enormous human development and environmental challenges, from poverty and disease to food security and climate change.”― Paul Polman


“As CEO of Unilever, my personal mission is to galvanize our company to be an effective force for good.”― Paul Polman


“Africa’s vibrancy and entrepreneurial spirit is un-matched. There’s huge potential here to grow business, create jobs, and to improve living standards.”― Paul Polman


“If too many people feel excluded from the system and cannot access its benefits, they will ultimately rebel against it.”― Paul Polman


“It cannot be right in a world of increasing human progress – whether in medicine, space exploration or renewable energy – that so many people are denied the most basic human rights.”― Paul Polman


“It is not possible to have a strong, functioning business in a world of increasing inequality, poverty, and climate change.”― Paul Polman


“Every few decades, we have an opportunity to make a drastic change to the way we live our lives. We get a chance to design the building blocks of our daily routines, the infrastructure that will support and accompany us for the years to come – from the trains and trams we ride, the offices we work in, to the energy that powers our homes.”― Paul Polman


“Left unchecked, climate change risks not only making the poorest poorer, but pulling the emerging middle classes back into poverty, too.”― Paul Polman


“Runaway climate change would condemn millions to a life of poverty and cause us to fail to meet the Sustainable Development Goal of eradicating extreme poverty by 2030. This is not an acceptable outcome.”― Paul Polman


“I actually am a capitalist, and I believe in shareholders. But I believe in them as a result of what I do, not as a reason for what I’m doing. The same with profits – profits alone cannot be an objective. It has to have a purpose.”― Paul Polman


“The ideal is a world in which every woman and girl can create the kind of life she wishes to lead, unconstrained by harmful norms and stereotypes.”― Paul Polman


“Companies are the first to see the costs of climate change.”― Paul Polman


“I think the most important thing is to achieve what you set out to achieve. Just being a CEO in itself is not success. I would not relate success to a title or a position.”― Paul Polman

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“My career has been a level of serendipity all along. I’ve never planned anything out more than a few years. All the places we lived – the 12, 13 countries – and the companies I worked for were a combination of circumstances.”― Paul Polman


“I work a lot with blind people in my spare time outside of Unilever, and I count my blessings every day.”― Paul Polman

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“For Unilever, investing in women is an imperative. The business and social cases for doing so are inextricably linked.”― Paul Polman


“As a consumer goods company serving billions of consumers every day, Unilever understands the drivers and motivations that create the norms that lie behind people’s behaviour.”― Paul Polman


“When women are provided with training and entrepreneurial opportunities in distribution networks, they become role models in their communities, showing it is possible to challenge limiting norms and stereotypes, and to succeed.”― Paul Polman


“Businesses and governments need to work together and make a joint commitment if we want to address climate change effectively and quickly.”― Paul Polman


“It is our responsibility as businesses to deliver ambitious solutions and technologies to bring us low-carbon, inclusive and sustainable growth.”― Paul Polman


“Africa is a vibrant, varied continent with a growing consumer base.”― Paul Polman


“Every region in the world faces challenges – and Africa is hugely diverse, so its own challenges are varied.”― Paul Polman


“My father worked in a tyre factory. My mother worked as a teacher.”― Paul Polman


“I’ve always been bothered by systems that don’t work for everybody. It doesn’t mean we’re all equal. I am not naive about that. But we should have a more inclusive society.”― Paul Polman


“P&G started in 1837, Nestle in 1857. These companies have been around for so long because they are in tune with society. They are very responsible companies, despite the challenges that they sometimes deal with, all the criticism they get.”― Paul Polman


“Unilever has been around for 100-plus years. We want to be around for several hundred more years.”― Paul Polman


“At the end of the day, people will follow you or people will be energised by you if they buy into your vision or purpose. So the most important thing is to be true to yourself. That’s why I would say to be a great leader – you, first and foremost, have to be a great human being. And sharing that purpose and sharing the values.”― Paul Polman


“I wanted to be a priest. I could have done that. I wanted to be a doctor. I could have done that. Circumstances didn’t lead me to it, so my fallback option was business. I wasn’t really motivated to this.”― Paul Polman


“We need more food, more forests, better livelihoods for smallholder farmers, and lower emissions. If we want any of them, we must have all of them.”― Paul Polman


“The planet’s forests are essential for life.”― Paul Polman


“Providing financial incentives for both local communities and national governments to conserve and restore forests also makes sense. It will put an economic value on these precious natural resources and drive the right behaviours from both government and business.”― Paul Polman


“Addressing the weaknesses of capitalism will require us, above all, to do two things: first, to take a long-term perspective, and second, to re-set the priorities of business.”― Paul Polman


“Taking proactive action on climate change is essential to ensuring that Unilever remains a viable business in the future. We will also reap the benefits in innovation, new product development, and cost efficiencies.”― Paul Polman


“Permissible growth in the future has to be based on sustainable and equitable models.”― Paul Polman


“At Unilever, we operate in 190 countries with two billion people using our products daily. We take climate seriously because we know that it impacts those two billion people – and that means it impacts us, too.”― Paul Polman


“When the climate hurts, people and businesses also feel the pain.”― Paul Polman


“Leading businesses are making large strides in ensuring a sustainable future, but ultimately, they can only do so much.”― Paul Polman


“To achieve policy stability and certainty, we need to establish a meaningful price on carbon and cut the billions of dollars spent each year on fossil-fuel subsidies, along with well-structured financial tools and rules.”― Paul Polman


“If the world wants a climate deal and new development agenda that’s good for the economy, for the poor, and for businesses, the path forward needs to include forests.”― Paul Polman

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“Simply put, the low-carbon economy is better for growth.”― Paul Polman


“Around the world, businesses and investors are increasingly taking action to climate-proof their own organizations.”― Paul Polman


“Business has a responsibility and opportunity to be the driving force for the advancement of universal human rights.”― Paul Polman


“Business must go on reiterating its absolute commitment to embedding human rights in all it does, driving industry change through collaboration with governments, international organizations, and each other.”― Paul Polman


“In certain cases, empowering women starts with making their lives easier and removing unnecessary burdens.”― Paul Polman


“Many businesses understand the advantages of gender parity.”― Paul Polman


“Let’s work together to make our economies strong and our climate sustainable. It can be done.”― Paul Polman


“Purpose has always been part of Unilever’s DNA. Our founder, William Lever, built a business around the sale of Lifebuoy soap that was not only profitable and sustainable but also helped transform the health of the poor in Victorian Britain.”― Paul Polman


“Consumers in both emerging and developed markets want it all – high-performing products, the right price, and a purpose that they can connect with.”― Paul Polman


“Land is a great example of how we can manage and invest in sustainable infrastructure for economic, social, and environmental gains. Its use – and misuse – is at the heart of the challenge for food, fuel, and fibre.”― Paul Polman


“We all have responsibility to stop violence and discrimination against women, whether it’s in our businesses, in our homes, or on our streets.”― Paul Polman


“At Unilever, we are committed to building an inclusive organisation where all individuals feel safe, valued, and supported – irrespective of gender, background, or any other difference.”― Paul Polman


“The young give us hope because young people are certain their best days still lie ahead – which explains why they’re absolutely convinced they can change the world for the better.”― Paul Polman


“While we have created prosperity for many, too many are being left behind.”― Paul Polman


“It only takes a handful of sizeable companies to reach a tipping point and to transform markets.”― Paul Polman


“As economies have evolved, the nature of work has always changed.”― Paul Polman


“If the short-term decisions you make damage the long term, you should resist those. But there are many short-term decisions that you need to make to be a successful manager.”― Paul Polman


“There is still too much pressure on short-termism in terms of the drivers of success.”― Paul Polman


“I say to a lot of people you have to measure success in terms of progress, not in terms of end state.”― Paul Polman


“Too many companies are running their business into the ground, I would argue, by being myopically short-term focused on the shareholder.”― Paul Polman


“I do not work for the shareholder, to be honest. I work for the customer.”― Paul Polman


“You can put yourself to the purpose of others, and in doing so, you can be better off.”― Paul Polman


“I see business as an ecosystem.”― Paul Polman


“I am very confident about the Modi government.”― Paul Polman


“I discovered a long time ago that if I focus on doing the right thing for the long term to improve the lives of consumers and customers all over the world, the business results will come.”― Paul Polman


“Too often, we are being programmed by the environment around us to behave differently. But I think a true leader is an authentic person who feels good about who he is.”― Paul Polman


“I don’t have a problem crying when I need to cry.”― Paul Polman


“Often people ask me what my job is, and I say, honestly, it is to make others successful, and the more you do that, the more you will see that you create prosperity.”― Paul Polman


“Why would you invest in a company which is out of synch with the needs of society, that does not take its social compliance in its supply chain seriously, that does not think about the costs of externalities or of its negative impacts on society?”― Paul Polman

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