We cannot choose between growth and sustainability — we must have both — Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever
I began working as an internal auditor at Unilever’s subsidiary Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) in India for over 3 years beginning in the summer of 2001 . My role took me to factories manufacturing home and personal care products ranging from soaps, detergents to shampoos all across India. I also visited a few factories manufacturing fertilizers used in agricultural lands across India. In all of my years, nothing made me prouder of Unilever than its rich heritage. A close second would be its impressive supply chain that straddled the length and breadth of the country. Its reach extended to villages that even government enterprises had failed to penetrate.
Unilever has its roots in manufacturing the ‘Lifebuoy’ brand of soaps which remains an icon of personal hygiene even today. I remember seeing Lifebuoy advertisements as a child. After seeing those advertisements and after having worked at Unilever, I thought socially responsible behavior to be great business sense and the bedrock of a sustainable business. Not every company is in the FMCG / CPG business but I thought to myself: what if all businesses put the promise of a better planet first? Wouldn’t profits follow as a natural consequence? Of course, the reality today does not mirror my sentiments. However, I feel a glimmer of hope with the rise of ESG investing. ESG investing could force many businesses to at least consider an idealistic view of business.
The Power Of An Idea
Although many claim that Bitcoin made them rich, the true power of Bitcoin does not lie in its function as a new kind of asset class (digital currency) to invest in or to make speculative gains from. The power of Bitcoin lies in the fact that it is a proof of concept (an executable idea that required worldwide collaboration) that proved to the world that the Blockchain is a very powerful…