When Executives Speak Out

A fair number of prominent business people have taken leadership positions on issues of sustainability and societal responsibility. Of course there are the examples we know and love to quote: Paul Polman of Unilever, Ian Cheshire of Kingfisher and Jochen Zeitz of Puma.

But what about when the pronouncements are more controversial?  I will never forget  the audible intake of breath at the BSR conference in San Francisco in 2010.   Aron Cramer was interviewing Zhang Yue, a prominent CEO from China running an energy efficiency business and displaying impeccable employee/human rights credentials. Taking everyone off guard he proclaimed that …

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Keeping Shareholders at Arms Length

I participated virtually in the Green Monday conference this week and had pause for thought after hearing each of the panelists respond to a question about the impact of shareholders on sustainability.

Andrew Shapiro of Green Order mentioned the mission driven nature of Facebook.  That mission will be maintained in public ownership partly through the class A shares on the market having lower voting power than the class B shares held by a much smaller block of existing shareholders.

Karen Hamilton of Unilever described CEO Paul Polman’s action to cease providing quarterly earnings forecasts because he didn’t see the short …

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