Case Study

Unilever’s 2020 super-stretch goal: Doubling growth, reducing negative impacts

7 pages
December 2014
Reference: IMD-7-1484

As sustainability challenges escalate around the world, the outcome for the planet and for its populations will depend in large measure on the behavior of individual people. That includes executives at all levels within corporations. Managerial behavior reflects corporate culture but also personal value systems, as has been patently observed during the recent and still ongoing financial crisis. Delivering on these ambitious objectives will take more than just a determined and target driven set of leaders within and throughout the organization. Research has revealed that the single most difficult aspect of embedding sustainability strategy in business are related – not only to external factors such as lack of buy in from shareholders – but significantly also to internal factors; the mindset of managers (either fixed – i.e. “sustainability doesn’t sell” – or short- term focused) , and/or a corporate culture inflexible to new ways and means of seeing and doing things. The case raises questions around how companies can create an enabling corporate culture and a set of value systems amongst managers that allows sustainability to become a seamless part of the way of doing business.

Learning Objective

How do you create the best organizational culture for strategic embedding of sustainability? What’s the magic formula for the ideal “petri dish” that will help breed an enabling organizational culture for delivery of an ambitious sustainability strategy on every level. What is the role of the Human Resources Department in providing an enabling environment for strategic rollout?

Sustainability Strategy, Human Resources, Change Management, Fast-moving Consumer Goods
Global, Netherlands
Unilever, Consumer Goods, Food and Beverage
2011 – 2015
Field Research
© 2014
Available Languages
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