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Embedding corporate responsibility and sustainability – everybody's business

Sir Michael Rake (Chairman of BT and chairman of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills)
David Grayson (Director of the Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility at Cranfield School of Management and was co‐chairman of the 2008 EABIS Colloquium)

Corporate Governance

ISSN: 1472-0701

Article publication date: 8 August 2009




This paper aims to deal with the significance of leadership as driver of corporate responsibility and complementary, dynamic organizational change. It seeks to focus on the continuous attention required by competitiveness, and the cultural complexity of renewing business processes in a global environment.


The paper opens by adopting the insecurity context that is clearly reflected in a range of contemporary management and non‐management discourses. Among the negative attributes of advanced globalization the authors trace the erosion of trust between society and institutions to perceptions of impropriety by managers in large firms. Reflecting on their extensive joint experience of the corporate responsibility vanguard from the early 1990s, they suggest some interesting themes that will be familiar to governance and CSR academics and practitioners alike. Strands of social, political, economic, cultural and environmental complexity are evident in the narratives.


Perhaps reflecting this decline in trust, the chorus of stakeholders calling for CSR two decades ago has now segued into a demand for sustainable enterprise. But are the dimensions of sustainability any more distinct and measurable than its conceptual antecedent: what is it for a firm to be responsible, accountable, sustainable and transparent? While aspiration can be seen to be running well ahead of capability on such a score in many businesses there are some showing clear leadership in the challenge to be more sustainable.


The paper offers an insight on the responses to this challenge at telecoms multinational BT. It articulates a comprehensive approach to what is a highly socialized (human‐focused) approach to managing the multiplicity of risks inherent in the opening context.



Rake, M. and Grayson, D. (2009), "Embedding corporate responsibility and sustainability – everybody's business", Corporate Governance, Vol. 9 No. 4, pp. 395-399.



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