Corporate Responsibility Champions Network: A ‘How to’ Guide

By Nadine Exter, Cranfield MBA alumni

Corporate Responsibility Champions Network: A ‘How to’ Guide

At the Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility we seek to work with companies to understand the challenges they face in embedding a commitment to Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability.

Over the next few years, we are committed to producing accessible and rigorous action-research on corporate responsibility(CR). One aspect of this is the role that individuals at different levels of companies can play. The think-tank and consultancy, Sustainability, has recently identified the contribution of social ‘intrapreneurs’ inside businesses, who develop marketplace solutions which also have positive environmental and social impacts. We are currently looking at the way companies organise board oversight and governance of CR, including the role of non-executive directors given a leadership role for CR. This first “how-to” guide from the Doughty Centre looks at another way in which individuals can support CR–and that is through being a champion either for CR overall or for a particular aspect such as climate-change or community involvement. Running a formal champions network is starting to become more popular–as illustrated by the 570 “PlanA” champions in each Marks and Spencer store, who are championing M&S’s ambitious five-year sustainability strategy.

As a new centre within an established school of management, we realise that CR has much to learn from existing disciplines like Strategy and Organisational Behaviour. How organisations achieve sustained change in other respects should have much to teach us about how to embed CR. Hence this guide and our future publications also seeks to make the link between CR and existing management theory, in away which we hope blends established theory and latest practice, in a relevant and timely fashion.

Our thanks go to the businesses and their representatives who were interviewed for this guide; to friends and colleagues from other organisations who commented on the draft; and particularly to Centre associate and Cranfield MBA alumni Nadine Exter, who has researched and written it.We welcome comments and further examples.

David Grayson, Director of The Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility

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