10 Years After Setting 'Audacious Goals,' Unilever Shows How Purpose and Profit Can Coexist

The brand’s Sustainable Living Plan set a course for its future

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When Paul Polman became Unliver’s CEO in 2009, the venerable brand wasn’t in the greatest of shape. According to Polman, who was the first outside chief executive in the company’s history, the consumer packaged goods giant had been struggling through a decade of shareholder stagnation. A strategy that driven by short-termism to satisfy shareholders’ immediate demands was at the heart of the problems Unilever had to address.

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