Corporate Social Opportunity 7 Years On

We caught up with David Grayson to see what he is currently working on and how the world of CSR has progressed in the last 7 years

David Grayson

Scarily, it is almost seven years since Adrian Hodges and I published Corporate Social Opportunity. Since then, many more companies have started to appreciate the business opportunities, as well as the societal benefits, that accrue from better managing environmental and social impacts. Adrian and I wrote several short pieces for Ethical Corporation magazine in 2007-08 illustrating some of these distinct examples. We reviewed emerging evidence for how companies could move from individual commercial innovations: corporate social opportunities (plural) to a more systemic corporate culture mindset shift.

Evidence continues to accumulate for both corporate social opportunities and Corporate Social Opportunity – not least in a recent high-profile Harvard Business Review article by Michael Parker and Mark Kramer about what they call “shared value” – how companies like GE, Unilever and many others are blending corporate and social gains. Adrian and I are currently revisiting our original Greenleaf Corporate Social Opportunity book with a view to a second edition.

I am particularly interested in how companies can engage the mass of their employees in the drive to build sustainability and responsibility into their purpose and strategy. Yes, successful embedding needs tone from the top: leadership and effective board governance of the commitment to corporate sustainability and responsibility. But it also needs the insight, energy and commitment of employees: what our good friend and colleague Julia Cleverdon calls “cafetiere (i.e. top-down) and percolator (bottom-up) combined!”

How companies engage their employees is one of the focus areas of the Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility. This includes the very special contribution of social intrapreneurs – the subject of the book which Melody McLaren, Heiko Spitzeck and I are writing for Greenleaf for publication in 2012. In the meantime, some of the early results of our research into social intrapreneurship can be found in a Doughty Centre Occasional Paper.


David Grayson

Director of the Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility
Greenleaf Author

We at Greenleaf like to reward our blog readers. For an additional 20% discount off David’s book Corporate Social Opportunity, please enter the discount code blogcso at checkout.

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