Net Positive

Net Positive : How Courageous Companies Thrive by Giving More Than They Take

3.96 (218 ratings by Goodreads)
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A Financial Times Best Business Book of the Year

Named one of 10 Best New Management Books for 2022 by Thinkers50

"An advocate of sustainable capitalism explains how it's done" - The Economist

"Polman's new book with the sustainable business expert Andrew Winston...argues that it's profitable to do business with the goal of making the world better." - The New York Times

Named as recommended reading by Fortune's CEO Daily

"...Polman has been one of the most significant chief executives of his era and that his approach to business and its role in society has been both valuable and path-breaking." - Financial Times

The ex-Unilever CEO who increased his shareholders' returns by 300% while ensuring the company ranked #1 in the world for sustainability for eleven years running has, for the first time, revealed how to do it. Teaming up with Andrew Winston, one of the world's most authoritative voices on corporate sustainability, Paul Polman shows business leaders how to take on humanity's greatest and most urgent challenges-climate change and inequality-and build a thriving business as a result.

In this candid and straight-talking handbook, Polman and Winston reveal the secrets of Unilever's success and pull back the curtain on some of the world's most powerful c-suites. Net Positive boldly argues that the companies of the future will profit by fixing the world's problems, not creating them.

Together the authors explode our most prevalent corporate myths: from the idea that business' only function is to maximise profits, to the naive hope that Corporate Social Responsibility will save our species from disaster. These approaches, they argue, are destined for the graveyard. Instead, they show corporate leaders how to make their companies "Net Positive"-thriving by giving back more to the world than they take. Net Positive companies unleash innovation, build trust, attract the best people, thrill customers, and secure lasting success, all by helping create stronger, more inclusive societies and a healthier planet. Heal the world first, they argue, and you'll satisfy your investors as a result.

With ambitious vision and compelling stories, Net Positive will teach you how to find the inner purpose and courage you need to embrace the only business model that will matter in the years ahead. You will learn how to lead others and unlock your company's soul, while setting and delivering big and aggressive goals, and taking responsibility for all of your company's impacts. You'll find out the secrets to partnering with others, including your competition and critics, to drive transformative change from which you will prosper. You'll build a company that serves your people, your customers, your communities, your shareholders-and your children and grandchildren will thank you for it.

Is this win-win for business and humanity too good to be true? Don't believe it. The world's smartest CEOs are already taking their companies on the Net Positive journey and benefitting as a result. Will you be left behind?

Join the movement at
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Product details

  • Hardback | 272 pages
  • 155 x 234 x 32mm | 612.35g
  • United States
  • English
  • 1647821304
  • 9781647821302
  • 6,406

Review quote

Named as one of "5 Books Entrepreneurs Should Read Immediately If Not Sooner" by Inc. magazine

Named one of the Best Books of the Year by Bloomberg

Named a top 10 Book of 2021 by Borsen

"This is a book for our time, relevant to everyone who wants to make a difference." - Institute of Leadership and Management's EDGE Journal

"...the greatest value of this book is in the practical detailed guidance" - Developing Leaders (IEDP)

"The bottom line is that Net Positive clearly lays out the case that businesses should be able to do well by doing good. Drawing on the important example of Unilever during Polman's tenure, it's also a high-level guide for organizations to more aggressively contribute to combating climate change and inequality." - Charter

"It makes a more optimistic case for courageous progressive companies and their leaders, who can offer practical, positive ways of tackling environment, social and governance issues." - Financial Times

Advance Praise for Net Positive:

"A wonderful rallying call to business leaders all over the world to step up to the greatest opportunity, and responsibility, of our time." - Sir Richard Branson, founder, Virgin Group

"Net Positive will be pure heresy to all those who still subscribe to the failed dogma of shareholder primacy-which is exactly why we need it." - Arianna Huffington, founder and CEO, Thrive Global

"A compelling and inspiring case that businesses can-and should-boost their bottom lines by contributing to their communities and protecting the environment." - Al Gore, 45th Vice President of the United States; Nobel Peace Prize winner; Chairman, Generation Investment Management

"Carefully considered and deeply rooted in the real world of management." - Satya Nadella, Chairman and CEO, Microsoft

"Don't call it a 'business book.' Net Positive fundamentally rethinks the way human beings-CEOs, politicians, and activists-can together reset our planet's trajectory." - Paul Hawken, author, Drawdown and Regeneration

"Polman knows that when leading CEOs stand up for a more equitable world, governments are much more likely to do the same." - Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General, World Trade Organization; Finance Minister of Nigeria, 2003-2006 and 2011-2015

"Net Positive turns courage and principled action into an electrifying strategy for business success. It's powerful, persuasive, and unlike any other book you've read." - Ken Frazier, Executive Chairman, Merck
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About Paul Polman

Paul Polman works to accelerate action by business to achieve the UN Global Goals, which he helped develop. He was the CEO of Unilever from 2009 to 2019, the first from outside the company in its century-plus history, and has been described by the Financial Times as "a standout CEO of the past decade." He created a new framework for decision-making in the organization to focus the business on multiple stakeholders and long-term value creation, committing the company to doubling its sales while keeping its footprint flat, to touching one billion people, and to greatly improving the lives of suppliers around the world. Peers and experts have ranked Unilever as the most sustainable company—above long-standing, privately run leaders like Patagonia and IKEA—for eight years. Today, Polman is cofounder and Chair of IMAGINE, a for-benefit organization and foundation that mobilizes businesses around the UN Global Goals.

Andrew Winston is one of the world's most widely read writers and leading thinkers on sustainable business. His books on sustainability strategy, including Green to Gold and The Big Pivot, have sold more than 150,000 copies in seven languages. Winston has also written cover stories for Harvard Business Review and published hundreds of articles in HBR, MIT Sloan Management Review, and other top publications. He was recently selected for the Thinkers50 Radar 2020, a list of "30 thinkers to watch out for in the coming year." His views on strategy have been sought after by many of the world's leading companies, including 3M, DuPont, HP, Ingersoll Rand, Johnson & Johnson, Kimberly-Clark, Marriott, PepsiCo, PwC, and Unilever.

You can find more about Paul Polman at:

You can find more about Andrew Winston at:
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Rating details

218 ratings
3.96 out of 5 stars
5 34% (74)
4 37% (80)
3 22% (49)
2 6% (12)
1 1% (3)
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