Companies often take a more active stance than governments do in these areas. Shell, another Anglo-Dutch company, has just said it will link executive pay to a reduction in carbon emissions see later story. Mr Polman was ahead of the game in realising that, more than ever before, consumers identify with the brands that they buy. They are reluctant to support those that are not perceived to share their values.
Employees, too, are more likely to work for companies whose values they share. It is perfectly reasonable to run a company on the basis that other stakeholders workers, consumers, etc matter, as well as shareholders. But that does not mean you can appear to ignore your shareholders altogether. You need to take them with you on every step of the way. And if they think a chief executive is railroading them, as Unilever investors clearly did about the move to the Netherlands, they will rebel. Join them.
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