CEO urges young leaders to embrace responsibility

Unilever CEO Paul Polman addressed an audience of young business leaders on Saturday 5 October, at the One Young World Summit in Johannesburg.

Making a positive impact on society

In a speech focusing on the importance of responsibility, he urged 1,200 delegates from 190 countries to go beyond the sustainability work being done in their businesses and take their own steps towards making a positive impact on society.

Paul revealed he had travelled to the event in South Africa from the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where he participated in Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s High Level Panel looking at the post-2015 development agenda.

“This has been my pleasure and my privilege. I also believe it has been my responsibility,” he explained.

“Becoming a force for good”

Paul went on to say that he believes governments and institutions cannot address the issues facing society without support from individuals keen to take responsibility for making a positive impact. “The more people we get involved, the more pressure we put on our leaders, the greater force we create and the more likely we are to create the kind of world we want,” he said.

“For business, this means going beyond CSR and becoming a force for good. Young people understand this more than most. Let’s release the energy of young people to make a difference,” he concluded. View Paul speaking at One Young World 2013 on YouTube.

Inspiring future leaders

Unilever has participated in the One Young World movement since it was founded in 2010 and Paul Polman has joined representatives from the worlds of business, politics, academia and celebrity as a Counsellor at each annual summit since 2011. This year he was part of a diverse group of Counsellors including Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, musician and activist Sir Bob Geldof, chef Jamie Oliver, and Nasa astronaut Ron Garan.

A delegation of 65 Unilever employees under the age of 30 also attended the 2013 One Young World Summit. Each representative is a member of Unilever’s Young Leaders Sustainability Network – a 175-strong group of high-performing young employees from across the global business.

Members of the network are empowered to become sustainability pioneers within Unilever, in support of the company’s sustainable growth goals and its mission to double the size of the business while reducing its impact on the environment and contributing to society.

To find out more, visit the One Young World website http://www.oneyoungworld.com/

Back to top