David Grayson

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

David Grayson

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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Philip is host of Corporate Sustainability; the podcast that explores companies and people who inspire innovation, improvement, and sustainable business practices through purpose-driven missions and initiatives. Philip is a longtime marketer, who consults companies on how to use stories and narrative to help build their brands.  He says sustainability stories are one of the most powerful ways companies can manage their reputations.

Connect with Philip at www.philipjames.co

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