Paul Polman on Capitalism, Leadership & Sustainability

December 13, 2018
Paul Polman is stepping down as CEO of Unilever, and the business pages are full of tributes, led by the FT, which calls him ‘the standout CEO of the past decade’. I interviewed him in 2016, as part of the research for How Change Happens. We met in Paul’s office in Unilever House, its cavernous Thames-side HQ. Inside the art

Are Big Companies Walking Their Talk on the SDGs? New report digs into the evidence

September 24, 2018
Following my recent semi-conversion to SDG agnosticism, Namit Agrawal, Uwe Gneiting and Ruth Mhlanga introduce a new Oxfam report on business and the SDGs Business has become a fixture in discussions around the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  This week in New York we will see the familiar picture of executives of the world’s largest corporations convening around the UN’s General

What I’ve learned about how the structures of businesses determine their social mission

July 25, 2018
Exfamer Erinch Sahan reflects on his first 100 days as boss of the World Fair Trade Organization 100 days ago. I left Oxfam to lead the World Fair Trade Organization. After seven years in Oxfam I had got hooked on one specific question: ‘are business structures that maximise power and returns for investors the only viable option?’ So now I

Why/how should corporates defend civil society space? Good new paper + case studies

October 19, 2016
I saw some effective academic-NGO cooperation last week, and even better, it involved some of my LSE students. The occasion was the launch of Beyond Integrity: Exploring the role of business in preserving civil society space, commissioned and published by the Charities Aid Foundation and written by Silky Agrawal, Brooks Reed and Riya Saxena, three of last year’s LSE Masters

Unilever opens a can of worms on corporate human rights reporting

August 12, 2015
This guest post comes from Rachel Wilshaw, Oxfam’s Ethical Trade Manager Hundreds of millions of people suffer from discrimination in the world of work. 1.3 billion people live in extreme poverty, surviving on less than $1.25 a day. 34 nations present an ‘extreme’ risk of human rights violations. Nearly 21 million people are victims of forced labour. It’s an unusual

Impact investing: hype v substance, the importance of ownership and the role of aid

July 2, 2015
Oxfam’s Erinch Sahan tries to disentangle hype from substance and makes a pitch for a new approach to impact investing. Impact investment is the next black. It’s already worth about $46 billion, and rapidly growing. In 2010, when it was a mere $4 billion, JP Morgan predicted it would be between $400 billion to $1 trillion within a decade. Forbes

Can greater transparency help people hold big corporations to account? Some new tools that may help

March 13, 2015
My former boss Phil Bloomer seems to be having fun in his new role running the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre. Here BHRRC researcher Eniko Horvath profiles 2 new interactive platforms on company virtues/vices and how they can help the struggle for corporate responsibility. In Mexico, the Federal Electricity Commission sued activist Bettina Cruz, for her peaceful advocacy on

A seismic shift in improving the behaviour of large companies? Guest post from Phil Bloomer

July 17, 2014
My former boss, Phil Bloomer is now running the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (check out its smart new multilingual website). Here he sees some signs of hope that the debate on corporate responsibility is moving beyond trench warfare over voluntary v regulatory approaches. Fingers crossed. ‘Mind the gap’ is a refrain that any visitor to London’s Underground trains will

What Makes Big Corporations Decide to Get on the Right Side of History?

February 26, 2014
For the past year, Oxfam’s Erinch Sahan (right) has been working on the ‘Behind the Brands’ campaign. Here he reflects on some successes and lessons from his time in the advocacy trenches. On 19 May 1997, the CEO of BP, John Browne, made a speech at Stanford University. Browne: “We must now focus on what can and what should be done,

How can campaigners tap corporate largesse without undermining their credibility? Unlocking millions for advocacy

December 12, 2013
It’s great to be accidentally topical. In the week that Save the Children had to fend off allegations of letting corporate funding influence its campaigns, here’s Oxfam America’s Chris Jochnick (@cjochnick) suggesting a way to accept money (in this case from extractive industries) while staying demonstrably independent Oxfam was recently approached by a major mining company to help it implement

Big food companies are moving from charity to rights. With one exception – Associated British Foods

December 11, 2013
Erinch Sahan (right), a private sector policy advisor at Oxfam GB, brings us up to date with the Behind the Brands campaign, and one particularly recalcitrant company. This is a story of a campaign on Big Food. A campaign successful in moving a bunch of companies, but struggling with one in particular. It is a story of corporate responsibility, of

The living wage campaign: are we reaching a tipping point in global supply chains?

December 10, 2013
It’s private sector week here on FP2P. First up, NGOs have been pushing the living wage in their engagement with international companies for at least 15 years, but Rachel Wilshaw, Oxfam’s Ethical Trade Manager reckons we might be on the verge of some kind of victory. The issue of a living wage is going up the corporate responsibility agenda. Last