All In’ → David Grayson (Author): 5 Steps to Corporate Sustainability

David is Emeritus Professor of Corporate Responsibility. From 2007-2017, he was director of the Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility and Professor of Corporate Responsibility. 

He joined Cranfield in April 2007, after a thirty year career as a social entrepreneur and campaigner for responsible business, diversity, and small business development. This included founding Project North East which has now worked in nearly 60 countries around the world; being the founding CEO of the Prince’s Youth Business Trust and serving as a managing-director of Business in the Community. 

David has an Honorary Doctorate of Law from London South Bank University and was a visiting Senior Fellow at the CSR Initiative of the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard (2005-10).

He has served on various charity and public sector boards over the past 30 years. These have included the boards of the National Co-operative Development Agency, The Prince of Wales’ Innovation Trust and the Strategic Rail Authority. 

He chaired the National Disability Council and the Business Link Accreditation Board; in each case appointed by the Major Government and re-appointed by the Blair administration. 

He is currently chairman of the national charity Carers UK championing the role of 6.5million Britons caring for a loved one. He is a former chairman of one of the UK’s larger social enterprises and largest eldercare providers, Housing & Care 21 during which the organisation made corporate history by becoming the first-ever not-for-profit successfully to acquire a publicly quoted group of companies. David received an OBE for services to industry in 1994 and a CBE for services to disability in 1999.

The Guardian has named David as one of ten top global tweeters on sustainable leadership alongside Al Gore, Tim Cook – CEO of Apple, and Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg: @DavidGrayson_

In this interview, the following topics are discussed:

  • VUCA — volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous as related to the world of business  (originally from American military)
  • The idea of corporate sustainability being viewed as soft
  • Diversity, climate change, social inclusion — businesses cannot afford to get wrong
  • Even a small hairdressing salon in Cape Town see water shortages of business strains
  • Black Rock, CEO letter, the need for business to be thinking longterm
  • Doing business for the longterm = corporate sustainabilty
    5 core attributes: 1. Purpose 2. Comprehensive Plan 3. Sustainable Culture 4. Skill and the Will 5. Advocacy
  • All five attributes must work together
  • Innovation equalling sustainability
  • Unilever invites public for ideas toward improvement
  • Empowerment and engaging employees
  • Collaboration with competitors
  • Sustainable Apparel Coalition
  • Social justice and sustainable development
  • SDGs — the roadmap for the future
  • If we can fulfill the SDGs by 2030 it is a 12T USD opportunity
  • Every great social problem and global issue is a business opportunity in disguise
  • If you understand you can identify opportunity
  • Vodaphone mobile money
  • Sectoral ratings and indexes for all major sectors
  • CSI Europe
  • Rankings and certifications are starting collaboration — for example GRI and UN Global Impact
  • From pre-start, the aspiration of becoming B Corp
  • A responsible business
  • Hyper global inequality — a profound alienation felt by voters
  • What must change in capitalism to survive
  • Employee recruiting in regard to millennials — Paul Polman reports that half of Unilever’s workforce is millennial
  • Employer of choice by millennials, and sustainability as a catalyst
  • Daniel Pink and Drive: mastery, autonomy, purpose — doing what matters


David Grayson

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