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Unilever’s Paul Polman Announces Right to Dignity Mission

The exiting ceo was in New York yesterday to launch the Anglo-Dutch giant's new charitable mission.

On the heels of Unilever’s chief executive change-up yesterday, the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant quietly announced a new charitable endeavor.

Current Unilever ceo Paul Polman on Thursday afternoon stopped by the New York Society for Ethical Culture on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, to announce the company’s new social mission, The Right to Dignity, a corporate commitment to helping the homeless. In attendance were representatives from various organizations and social agencies with expertise in helping people living on the streets, including Habitat for Humanity, Greyston Bakery and Lava Mae. A new personal care line launching in 2019 will help fund the mission.

In his opening remarks, Polman stressed Unilever’s commitment to sustainable business models and “using the private sector as a force for good.”

Said Esi Eggleston Bracey, “It’s our opportunity and responsibility to [do good], and making sure that thing happens broadly is really at the core what what we do. At Unilever, we believe it’s our business to do good — it’s not only about profit, it’s how communities can profit together. Part of making sure of that is making sure we have a society that’s inclusive and how we can have a society that’s inclusive when we have a portion of the population that feels isolated and forced to live on the margins because of homelessness? We feel called to do something about that.”

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The remarks were followed by a round-table discussion led by Bracey with experts on the homeless community, centered on solutions for providing equal access to hygiene services for homeless people.

“See if together we can become something bigger than each of us individually,” Polman told the group. “If we can put the scale [and reach] of a corporation behind this, think of the transformation we can make.