Corporate Social Opportunity! 7 steps to make corporate social responsibility work for your business

by David Grayson and Adrian Hodges
Publisher: Greenleaf Publishing, 2004

Reviewed by: Julie Garland McLellan*

There is a tense stand off in our boardrooms between those who view corporate citizenship as essential for a valuable brand and future “license to operate” and those who firmly espouse the view that “the business of business is business”.

In Corporate Social Opportunity Grayson and Hodges reconcile the viewpoints to show how CSR can effectively build opportunities and mitigate risks. There are enough real world case studies (with profit figures attached) to persuade even the most sceptical. Better still, there is a simple model and a worked example that will assist in driving social responsibility and value creation right through the heart of your strategy. This is not a book for the spin doctors in the PR department; it is written for those with the power and drive to ensure that CSR is built in rather than bolted on.

The most refreshing aspect of the book is the focus on creating opportunities and exploiting them before the competition have woken up to the fact that they exist. It is a thinly disguised treatise on seizing, and capitalising upon, first-mover advantage but written with respect for the people who make up the targeted markets and delight in the win-win outcomes.

The authors cite the need for top down support and bottom up innovation. They provide examples of board involvement to facilitate and drive the process. The book culminates with a worked example of a fictitious organisation that implements the seven steps. This is developed in detail, including sample action plans which highlight the division of activities between board and executives. My favourite part was the fictitious CEO asking his Chairman to review the skills and diversity available on the board and replenish the non-executive ranks with directors that would enrich and add value to the board debate and decision-making. Buy the book to find out how the Chairman responded!

This is not a quick read. The 390 pages are chock full of anecdotal evidence, business theory, practical hints and insightful analysis. The few diagrams are simple and clear; adding value to the text. The authors generously share their combined experience in business, consulting, and the government sector.

Whilst the book is primarily aimed at the manufacturing sector and will be most easily assimilated by those who deal with consumer markets there are numerous examples from primary industries and the government and not-for-profit sectors. This book throws down a well worn gauntlet but follows up with sufficient inducements to leave readers with an overwhelming desire to take up the challenge.

* Julie Garland McLellan is a governance and board consultant. She is a professional non-executive director and an AICD NSW Councillor. She is the author of “All Above Board: Great Governance for the Government Sector” and is currently working on her second book “All Above Board: Great Governance of Strategy and Risk”.

Julie Garland McLellan to judge 2011 Global eBook Awards