Good morning, Peter Vanham here, filling in for Alan.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, we’ll meet in Georgia for Fortune’s first ever Impact Initiative. On the agenda: how companies can improve their ESG performance, or even have their purpose—beyond profits—drive performance.
Ahead of the meeting, we asked Paul Polman, longtime CEO of Unilever and a firm believer in the expanded role of business in society, to pen a piece on what he considers business’s most important priority today: climate action.
According to Polman, post-COP27 business needs to kick into action because politics won’t—and because it can do what politics can’t. “Business literally can’t afford to sit back and wait for politics to get its act together,” he wrote, pointing to the economic cost of extreme weather. But he also noted: “There are tremendous gains waiting for those who move quickly.”
Asked to elaborate for the CEO Daily audience, he added: “Climate is no longer a peripheral issue—it’s at the absolute core of sharp business strategy. The most resilient, innovative, attractive companies are moving from a risk to reward mentality.”
For Polman, the best way for companies to get ahead is by shifting from a classic “corporate social responsibility” or “do less harm” mindset, to embracing regenerative and restorative business models.
“Becoming carbon negative or actively creating more nature and biodiversity, what we call having a net positive impact,” are examples, he said. “This is how leading CEOs will ensure their companies’ resilience, dynamism, and appeal in the volatile years ahead.”
Polman, who is returning from the B20 meeting in Bali, Indonesia, won’t be in Atlanta. But Peter Bakker, CEO of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and for years Polman’s confidant, will. Among others attending: Occidental CEO Vicki Hollub, Ares Management’s Tony Ressler, former UN ambassador Andrew Young, and top sustainability officers from Walmart, Coca-Cola, GM, UPS, Target, Siemens, Pfizer, Delta, and more.
You can find the full agenda here, and follow the keynote events on Fortune.com.
Asian markets fell this morning after a weekend of spreading protests in China against President Xi Jinping’s seemingly unbreakable zero-COVID policy. The lockdown pushback was inspired by a deadly apartment block fire in Ürümqi, the capital of Xinjiang province, in which some have alleged COVID restrictions hindered the fire department’s response. Hundreds have protested in major cities including Beijing and Shanghai. Goldman Sachs says there may now be a “forced and disorderly exit” from Xi’s policy. Such a move could prove disruptive owing to the population’s relative lack of exposure to the virus. Fortune
Barclays CEO C.S. “Venkat” Venkatakrishnan will undergo treatment for cancer, and will work from home for a while. “I have been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma,” the bank chief wrote in a public letter to colleagues. “The good news is that the matter has been detected early, with scans and biopsies confirming it to be very localized.” CNBC
Concerns were raised within Adidas about the risk of partnering with Kanye West as early as four years ago, according to a Journal report about a 2018 presentation to the sportswear brand’s board. The board reportedly responded to the warning by stepping up efforts to retain the Yeezy partnership. Wall Street Journal
AROUND THE WATERCOOLER
Mastodon’s 29-year-old CEO wants his Twitter alternative to ‘replace’ its rival some day, but he’s taking an anti–Elon Musk approach to growing it, by David Meyer
Mark Cuban says he’d ‘be afraid of going to jail for a long time’ if he were Sam Bankman-Fried, by Steve Mollman
Could a Black female business leader be as messy as Sam Bankman-Fried and Elon Musk? The answer is obvious, by L’Oreal Thompson Payton
Maine is bereft as Whole Foods strikes local lobster from the menu, by Associated Press
The mining industry can’t ignore a startup’s solution to a decades-old copper problem: ‘The potential is enormous,’ by Bloomberg
This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.
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