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Working to inspire the best in business, people and society.

Advocate for Responsible Business, Sustainability, cross-sector collaboration. Active citizen. Emeritus Professor of Corporate Responsibility, Chair of Carers UK, Chair of Institute of Business Ethics. Writer, speaker and campaigner.

All In: The Future of
Business Leadership

To have a fighting chance of enduring success, businesses can no longer be half-hearted or tentative about sustainability. All In provides corporate leaders with the inspiration and guidance they need to fully embrace the opportunities and challenges of sustainability leadership. This book presents a roadmap for tens of thousands of businesses globally who have yet to embed sustainability in their corporate strategies. All In outlines an approach to leadership critical to future business success and ensuring a better world for all. For more information visit:

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Take Care: How to be a Great Employer for Working Carers

There could be as many as 300 million caregivers in the global workforce providing care for loved ones. Take Care is a practical guide that enables employers to better understand and support employees with caring responsibilities. It presents this as part of good management practice that strengthens organizational resilience and sustainability, and also argues that this is now an integral element of being a responsible employer and organisation.

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As a writer, I am a campaigner by nature. My goals are to share information, develop and disseminate new ideas and approaches and to encourage positive action by individuals and organisations.

I try to write as accessibly as possible as I really dislike reading impenetrable text that requires a dictionary to decipher. I write books, newspaper and magazine articles for Guardian Sustainable Business, Cranfield School of Management blogs, journal articles, conference papers and other publications.

My most recent book is “Leaving No One Behind: Israeli business and Inclusive Growth” co-authored with Tami Leffler, Momo Mahadav and Elisha Silberklang: published December 2019.

There is a link to more of my Cranfield writing here.

Latest writing:


In my second year at secondary school, I was encouraged to debate. I loved it. I have been giving impromptu speeches, formal presentations and lectures ever since.

My more memorable speaking experiences over the years have included:

  • being interrupted mid-speech in Mexico City for an emergency earthquake drill
  • being prevented from speaking at all in Fiji because of a military coup
  • getting off an overnight flight to Harare to speak at a small workshop for entrepreneurs, discovering plans had changed and instead speaking to over 3,000 entrepreneurs with the then Vice-President of Zimbabwe in the chair
  • speaking to several thousand business school students and business people in a whistle-stop, five-day, five-city lecture tour of India organised by the British Council on Corporate Responsibility
  • speaking to business leaders from Myanmar and other parts of Asia in a bomb-proof room in Naypyidaw about business purpose (the room had been built for the visit of President Obama a few months earlier)
  • speaking to enthusiastic young social entrepreneurs and activists over several years of the EMERGE conference

Latest speaking:

Most recent speeches:

Doha, Qatar CSR Awards Ceremony, Feb 4

Doing Good, Doing Well Responsible Business Conference, IESE Business School, Barcelona, Mar 5

Responsible Business Leadership Council, Warsaw, Mar 28

Sustainable Brands, Istanbul, Apr 4

University of Muscat, Oman, April 30th

CSR Europe SDG Summit, Brussels, May 7

European Green Business Week, Crete, May 13

Telegraph Digital & Caring Conference, London, May 21

Roca Gallery Barcelona, June 3rd

EFMD Annual Conference, Lisbon, June 7

Ethical Corporation Responsible Business Summit, London June 7

Levitt Group, Five Minds Marketing Conference, London, June 12

REBA Well-being Congress, London, June 20

Business Fights Poverty, Oxford, July 11

Forward Institute, Sandhurst, Oct 3

Advantage Austria, London Oct 6

Carers UK Annual Conference, Canary Wharf, Oct 10

Vinci Facilities’ Key Customers’ Workshop, Nov 8

Austrian Embassy, Institute of Directors London, Nov 8

Norwegian Caregivers Association., Oslo, Nov 19

Rotterdam Business School, Nov 29

BRG Staff Conference, Sydney, Feb 18

If you would like to inquire about booking David for a speaking engagement please get in touch.


Over forty years and counting, I have had the privilege of working with and learning from an amazingly diverse range of individuals and organisations around the world. These have included grassroots community economic development organisations as well as national charities, international voluntary organisations, entrepreneurial start-ups, and some of the world’s largest multinationals. I have done assignments for the EU Commission, the OECD and the World Bank.

Advisory assignments have included helping businesses develop new sustainability strategies and/or reconsider their purpose; evaluate programmes, undertake feasibility studies, collect and present stakeholder views.

My criteria for new advisory work are:

  • interesting assignment where I will also learn and grow;
  • working with fun, positive, stimulating people;
  • having a positive impact.

Some of my recent assignments have included working with the Corporate Research Forum on Human Resources and the Responsible Business agenda

and with the Austrian Embassy in London to organise a “Learning Journey” to London to explore how businesses can embed sustainability. We are planning another Journey in 2021.

Corporate Responsibility Advisory:

Adviser on Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability:

Visiting faculty:

Circle of Advisers:

Speakers’ panel:

Editorial advisory board:


I was a very late developer for the world of management education. I joined the faculty of Cranfield School of Management at the age of 52. I had been giving the occasional guest lecture at INSEAD, Stanford and other academic institutions for fifteen years and, for at least a decade, I had been thinking about how business and business schools could work better together to prepare responsible business leaders for the future.

In 1996, I had facilitated for BP a workshop about getting corporate responsibility into the business school curriculum. In 2002, I had helped to convene a meeting at Highgrove for the Prince of Wales to meet business school deans and company heads of talent and learning to talk about the same topic. Still, it was a daunting prospect when the headhunters first called about the Cranfield post. I was very shocked and pleasantly surprised when at the end of the interview process, I was offered the job. I was a professor of Corporate Responsibility for a decade. I set out my stall in my inaugural lecture, Sense and Sustainability, in 2007; I will leave you to judge what progress we have made by comparing the inaugural lecture and the 2017 Decade of the Doughty Centre report to stakeholders.

Along the way, I have made a few suggestions for improving business-business school collaboration around responsibility and sustainability for Financial Times and Ethical Corporartion.

Rotterdam Business School recently invited me to reflect on the techniques we have used at Cranfield over the decade to embed Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability and with the benefit of that wonderful gift called hindsight, what I would do differently if I had my time again.

Current position:

Emeritus Professor of Corporate Responsibility at Cranfield School of Management.


When I started secondary school, I could barely walk let alone run (after a long and nasty bone disease). Undaunted, my teachers decided that if I couldn’t join in the compulsory cross-running, I would chair the newly created cross-country organising committee. It was never made clear how the cross-country leagues had been organised hitherto! So, very early on, I learnt the art of chairing. I have been chairing committees and boards ever since.

As someone with a dangerous habit for having ideas, I have to remind myself that normally, I am the non-executive chairman – so my job is to lead the board and not the organisation. I have learnt from both sides of the chairman/CEO fence, the importance in the chemistry and relationship between the CEO and the chairman. I am a great fan of the book Leading the Board by my good friend and colleague Andrew Kakabadse; and also of the excellent booklet A Question of Balance about the CEO-Chair relationship published by the Association of Chairs of charities and voluntary organisations.

Current positions:

Chair of the Institute of Business Ethics 

Immediate past Chair of the charity Carers UK


I ran my first community campaign at the age of fifteen, when we won a battle with central government over some local authority boundaries, and I have been campaigning ever since.

Over the years, the causes have included Europe, human rights and democracy, youth enterprise and skills development, public-private-community partnerships, better help for entrepreneurs, rights for people with disabilities, responsible business, sustainability, the Good Later Life and creating a society that respects, values and supports carers, and encouraging employers to help their working carers.

I have long been interested in ideas and practical initiatives to build an economy that works for all.  As debates begin about how best to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic and global lockdown, I am carefully following #BuildBackBetter debates such as the Imperative21

I am part of an emerging UK forum: UK21 where people, organisations and movements from a wide range of backgrounds come together to help accelerate the transition to a new economic system.
We have different perspectives, approaches and backgrounds but we are united in two beliefs:
Post-pandemic the UK needs a new economic system that creates shared prosperity and addresses endemic social and environmental challenges.
Business can be a force for good and has a vital role to play in achieving this transition.



I was born and grew up near Sheffield, in the North of England. After a youthful dalliance with national and international politics, and a brief spell working for an international, fmcg (fast-moving consumer goods company), I quickly became a social entrepreneur, starting or running several public-private-community partnerships. These have been focused on small business development, youth enterprise, disability rights and more recently, the role of business in society.

In 2007, I was appointed to run the new Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility at the Cranfield School of Management in the UK, which I did until the end of 2017. I now divide my time between Sheffield, London, Cranfield and Sitges, near Barcelona.


This site was designed by a small, sustainability-focused consultancy Wolf&Player. It was a great pleasure to work with Chris Wolf and Lucy Player. They explain their approach to the design of the website here.

My passions:

I remain deeply interested in UK, EU and international affairs. I am a British-European. I enjoy travel, theatre, keeping in regular touch with family and friends; and am trying to get fitter again and regain some lost mobility. Learning Spanish is part of my forward goals.


T: +44 (0) 771 2531238