Bloomberg Businessweek

The Gospel According to Unilever

The consumer-goods giant was an ESG evangelist when it wasn’t cool. Can the new believers make a real difference?

At the World Economic Forum in Davos three years ago, Paul Polman, then the chief executive officer of consumer-goods giant Unilever, was a standard bearer of the enviro-capitalist elite. Before leading a standing-room-only session on gender inequality, he’d given a separate talk on the United Nations’ sustainable development goals and later in the week appeared alongside the prime minister of Norway and an indigenous-rights activist from Chad to discuss the threats of deforestation.

At the time, despite the forum’s

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