This is a book about how to improve corporate performance and gain competitive advantage.
In Corporate Social Opportunity! Grayson and Hodges challenge perceived wisdom that adherence by business to corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a zero-sum game where the impact on companies is added costs and extra regulatory burden. From their unique vantage point working with leaders of global businesses and of local communities, the authors explain how powerful drivers forcing companies to adopt stringent social, ethical and environmental standards simultaneously create largely untapped opportunities for product innovation, market development and non-traditional business models.
The key to exploiting these opportunities lies in building CSR into business strategy, not adding it on to business operations. With examples from 200 companies to illustrate their case, they outline both in theory and practice a seven-step process managers can apply to assess the implications of CSR on their business strategy and identify their own corporate social opportunities.
Business is operating in a whirlwind of interacting global forces: revolutionary developments in communications and technology, significant changes in markets, shifts in demographics, and a transformation of personal values. The fallout from these forces is the underlying reason that corporate social responsibility has come of age. These global forces have led to a number of issues-such as ecology and environment, human rights and diversity, health and well-being, and communities-becoming potential liabilities for companies. Once regarded as 'soft' management issues, they are now increasingly recognised as hard to predict and hard for the business to deal with when they go wrong. Corporate Social Opportunity!, by the authors of the best-selling Everybody's Business moves the argument from the "why" of corporate social responsibility (CSR) to the "how" and beyond – to a future where CSR is perceived as an opportunity for business both in terms of reaping the benefits of retaining brand or organisational value and by developing new products and services, serving new markets and adopting new business models. This is not always a story of black and white, of what is right or what is wrong. Often it embraces apparently conflicting demands which require the application of judgement, guided by a clear sense of overall direction and corporate purpose. This book is designed to act as a compass for aiding navigation through such dilemmas and complex decisions.
Using examples of current good practice, detailed interviews with leading CEOs and newly created diagnostic planning tools, all framed within a seven-step model for making CSR happen, the book aims to provide a practical guide to help business leaders and their managers understand how to assess the impact of corporate social responsibility factors on their core business strategy and operations and help them identify and prioritise between subsequent options and resulting business opportunities.
The book is structured into two parts. Both parts describe the same seven-step model which, if followed, will help managers think through desired changes to business strategies, and necessary corresponding changes to operational practices. In Part 1, the seven steps-triggers; scoping; making the business case; committing to action; resources and integrating operations; engaging stakeholders; and measuring and reporting-are described and illustrative evidence and corresponding data provided. In Part 2, the authors have created a worked example of the diagnostic processes that form the backbone of the seven steps, based on the health and well-being issue of fast food and the growing problem of obesity, particularly among children, along with notes on how a manager might work through the processes with colleagues.
The authors are pro-business although not business-as-usual. The book is written first and foremost with the purpose of helping to improve business performance, because business is after all the principal motor for growth and development in the world today. The authors argue that companies adhering to best practice in CSR and taking advantage of possibilities inherent in Corporate Social Opportunity! are good for shareholders as well as customers and employees.
My impression is that this book should be compulsory reading for all company managers in a world where business is starting to take social responsibility extremely seriously, for many reasons. The steps provided in the book represent an admirable framework for company management to structure their approach to integrating social, ethical and environmental issues into the core of their business. The book is packed full of a wealth of references to real cases of CSR, using these to illustrate the mistakes companies can make and the essential nature of stakeholder inclusivity. As well as being an excellent book for practitioners and managers at all levels within companies, this book is an ideal reference for undergraduate and postgraduate students following courses which include a CSR component. I will certainly be referencing it on my own course on corporate governance and accountability.
...I would strongly recommend it as an essential text for all those in business working in this area.
The core message throughout the book is the need for companies to embrace CSR without being impeded by two main hindrances: fear that puts companies in a defensive position, and treating CSR as a "bolt-on" to business rather than a "built-in" strategy. The ultimate goal, therefore, is to create an environment where numerous CSOs are possible.
... proposes a practical seven-step process to help business leaders ... instead of "bolt on", CSR can become a valuable "built in".
Corporate Social Opportunity! clearly shows how to combine the natural creativity and innovation of entrepreneurial businesses with a commitment to Corporate Responsibility.
Corporate social responsibility is not a "bolt-on" to be added once business strategy and planning has been finalised; it needs to be "built in" to strategy decisions and integrated into the planning process. That's how risks are effectively managed and business opportunities identified. Corporate Social Opportunity! explains how business can best get value from this process.
The Corporate Social Opportunity! model firmly links CSR to the theory and practice of business strategy and organisational purpose, and is as such indispensable reading for the MBA class and the corporate boardroom.
Westpac is constantly approached about CSR books. Corporate Social Opportunity! is a really practical and positive book, written from a business perspective – and I warmly welcome it. Indeed, I would recommend it to other businesses.
How to use this book Introduction
Part I: From corporate social responsibility to corporate social opportunity in seven steps Step 1: Identifying the triggers Step 2: Scoping what matters Step 3: Making the business case Step 4: Committing to action Step 5: Integration and gathering resources Step 6: Engaging stakeholders Step 7: Measuring and reporting
Part II: Putting the seven steps into action: a worked example Part II: Introduction Step 1 in action: Identifying the triggers Step 2 in action: Scoping what matters Step 3 in action: Making the business case Step 4 in action: Committing to action Step 5 in action: Integration and gathering resources Step 6 in action: Engaging stakeholders
After the Management Retreat Signposts
DAVID GRAYSON is Director of the Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility at Cranfield University.
ADRIAN HODGES is managing director of the International Business Leaders Forum.
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