Tim Cohen Senior editor: Business Day

Most people in modern society, I guess, think the interests of consumers, investors and employees are a zero-sum game; any gain by one would result in an equivalent loss by the other two. It seems so obvious. A company increases its profit by charging more for its products; that profit is handed over to investors. The result is that investors are happy; consumers less so. Or the company hands over the profit increase to its employees or more likely its managers with the same result. Put the other way around, it needs to “exploit” its employees, and the more it does so, the more profit it makes. It's logical, right? Because this notion is so entrenched in politics around the world, it’s refreshing to meet people such as outgoing Unilever CEO Paul Polman whose root philosophy was and it remains the precise opposite. Of course, profit increases do mean more dividends for investors. But the point is that all the inherent levers of action pull not against each other but towards each othe...

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