I am delighted to announce the Paul Polman, former CEO of Unilever, is giving a public lecture speak at Northumbria University on February 11.

Under his leadership Unilever became reputed for ethical business promoting sustainability, equality (just think of the ‘Dove; advertising campaigns), safety (for example using the Lifebuoy brands to promote hand-washing campaigns in Asia ) and being the first corporation to introduce an annual impact report on human rights. When he became CEO in 2009 Mr Polman emphasized long-term performance and sustainable growth and eschewed quarterly profit reports. Investors who shared his long-term ambitions were wise to do so. Under his leadership, the growth in Unilever’s share price significantly outperformed the FTSE 250 and in recent years, the company fought off hostile takeovers.

Mr Polman has said that: “True leadership is putting yourself to the service of others and, if you can marry that with a very noble cause, to make this a better place for all.” These are not just fine words. He is a member of the Board of the United Nations Global Compact, Chair of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and President of the Kilimanjaro Blind Trust, a foundation he created to benefit blind children in Africa, amongst many other charitable activities amongst many other international roles. Since retiring form Unilever he has established Imagine, a foundation helping businesses to work in sustainable ways.

Mr Polman worked in the North East when he led Proctor and Gamble, a Unilever Subsidiary and has often spoken about the impact of this region for his business philosophy. When he returns on February 11th he will speak about “Capitalism’s Reinvention: how Sustainable Development Goals can drive a new market, where purpose delivers profit and business plays its urgent role in tackling runaway climate change and reducing global poverty.”

As one of the top 50 world universities for Business Ethics research, Northumbria University promotes sustainable practices and, through our Responsible Business Seminar series and our work with NIBE, promote the North East as a region known for good business. Paul Polman is the best known world business leader for Sustainable and Responsible Business and we are delighted that he will be giving a second public lecture here; we envisage this becoming an annual event. Tickets are free but registration is required and you can sign up here: https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/about- us/news-events/events/2020/02/paul-polman-lecture/

Professor Ron Beadle @BeadleProf @PaulPolman