ESG poster child Unilever waters down green pledges as investors urge refocus on growth

In an interview, the consumer group’s new CEO Hein Schumacher said he needs to drive performance at the company

Hein Schumacher, the new CEO of Unilever: “I need to drive performance.” Picture: Bloomberg

Unilever plans to abandon or water down a string of environmental and social pledges against the backdrop of a growing backlash from investors, consumers and politicians against companies pursuing non-financial objectives.

The move by Hein Schumacher, Unilever’s chief executive officer, marks a major shift for the consumer group, which has built its business strategy on a bedrock of ESG policies for more than a decade.

Seen as the corporate world’s biggest cheerleader for the idea that companies should do good in the world, the ...