Most large companies now have some board oversight of their commitment to corporate responsibility and sustainability.
José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, British foreign secretary William Hague, US secretary of state Hilary Clinton and most recently American president Barack Obama have all visited Burma in recent months.
The significance of business-led corporate responsibility coalitions is indisputable. The WBCSD has 200 member companies with combined annual revenues of US$7 _trillion_; the UN Global Compact has almost 8,000 corporate members, over two-thirds of them from developing countries.
Modern chief executives need to be more than business leaders. And their wider responsibilities are something to be supported, not begrudged. At the 2012 Ethical Corporation Responsible Business Summit, I interviewed Paul Walsh, the long-serving chief executive of Diageo.
The challenge for business schools and business itself is to establish a new maxim, 'the business of business is sustainable business' Business schools have a special contribution to make in developing globally responsible, critical and independent thinking future leaders and managers.
In the midst of the Euro-zone crisis, it would have been easy to miss the recent publication of the new Communication on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)from the European Commission. Publication had been delayed several times as rival camps battled over the text.
Cranfield’s professor of corporate responsibility gives his personal view on how business schools have developed corporate responsibility programmes, and where their future focus should be. Twenty years ago, as one of the managing directors of Business in the Community, the UK-based, business-led coalition promoting corporate responsibility, I visited the Harvard Business School (HBS), to suggest it should teach corporate responsibility.
Leading companies understand why being a good corporate citizen leads to economic success. The “business case” for corporate responsibility was given new resonance this summer by the News of the World phone hacking scandal and the events that followed.
The baying mob in full cry, circling alleged perpetrators of great wrongs, is not a pretty sight. Sudden swarming, like nests of disturbed wasps, is bad both for corporate and political decision-making, and for justice. In an era of 24/7 news-channels, internet and social media, the potential for swarming is dramatically magnified – as we have seen in the last three weeks.
Recently The Economist ran the cover story "Welcome to the Anthropocene – Geology's new age."
"Rather than placing us still in the Holocene, a peculiarly stable era that began only around 10,000 years ago, the geologists say we are already living in the Anthropocene: the age of man."