Paul Polman on addressing inequality and the need for shared prosperity
Unilever CEO Paul Polman says that inequality is the biggest obstacle we face to creating a sustainable and equitable future.
PAUL POLMAN: I’ve been very fortunate to be born in the Netherlands, where education was free, where health care was free. And I didn’t have to worry about making it past the age of five, or being able to go to university. If you belong to this lucky 2% of the population that frankly can do what they want, you have to put yourself to the service of the other 98%.
[Inequality is logo. A graphic black equal sign with an orange slash through it. #InequalityIs. Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever. A tall balding white man wearing a blue suit.]
Inequality is probably the biggest prohibitor that we face to creating a sustainable and equitable future for all of us. When 60% of women work in agriculture and only have 10% of the income, that’s inequality. When only—in a country like China—5% of the people go to university and have a chance to be in the upper echelon of society, that’s inequality. When 3.5 million people are still excluded from access to their legal systems, that’s inequality. And this inequality then undermines the fabric of society. It undermines the trust. And trust is ultimately needed to build this prosperity that we want for everybody.
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