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Prize winner
Published by: Hult Publishing
Originally published in: 2013
Version: Rev.2015
Revision date: 05-Mar-2018

Abstract

Sustainability, as it relates to both social and environmental issues, is treated very differently among companies that incorporate the subject into their business strategies. In this caselet, we explore sustainability at Unilever whose management addresses it not as a risk to be managed or cost to be avoided, but as an opportunity for competitive advantage and growth. With emerging markets as the backdrop we learn about Unilever's Sustainable Living Plan, and what the company has done to integrate sustainability principles into its business model and build on its core competencies, such as innovative product development and marketing expertise, to realise the potential of the fast-growing emerging markets (55% of its 2012 revenues came from emerging markets compared to less than 17% of most multinationals). Issues considered are the role of corporate culture and competencies, the importance of committed and courageous leadership, the willingness to set ambitious goals, and the challenge of creating internal and external alignment around strategic goals. The caselet is particularly well-suited for discussion at a Board and management level, as well as with graduate business students in strategy, organizational change, business and society, corporate responsibility and leadership courses.

Teaching and learning

This item is suitable for postgraduate and executive education courses.

Time period

The events covered by this case took place in 2010-2013.

Geographical setting

Region:
World/global

Featured company

Unilever
Industry:
Fast moving consumer goods

About

Abstract

Sustainability, as it relates to both social and environmental issues, is treated very differently among companies that incorporate the subject into their business strategies. In this caselet, we explore sustainability at Unilever whose management addresses it not as a risk to be managed or cost to be avoided, but as an opportunity for competitive advantage and growth. With emerging markets as the backdrop we learn about Unilever's Sustainable Living Plan, and what the company has done to integrate sustainability principles into its business model and build on its core competencies, such as innovative product development and marketing expertise, to realise the potential of the fast-growing emerging markets (55% of its 2012 revenues came from emerging markets compared to less than 17% of most multinationals). Issues considered are the role of corporate culture and competencies, the importance of committed and courageous leadership, the willingness to set ambitious goals, and the challenge of creating internal and external alignment around strategic goals. The caselet is particularly well-suited for discussion at a Board and management level, as well as with graduate business students in strategy, organizational change, business and society, corporate responsibility and leadership courses.

Teaching and learning

This item is suitable for postgraduate and executive education courses.

Settings

Time period

The events covered by this case took place in 2010-2013.

Geographical setting

Region:
World/global

Featured company

Unilever
Industry:
Fast moving consumer goods

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