Episode #2: David Grayson - why businesses need to go 'All In'

25 September 2018

David Grayson

David Grayson is Emeritus Professor of Corporate Responsibility at the Cranfield School of Management. For over ten years, he was the director of the Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility. He recently co-authored the influential book ‘All In – The Future of Business Leadership’. He has authored a number of other books, including most recently ‘Take Care: How to be a great employer for working carers’.

He has had a long history of working on enterprise, social impact and sustainability. Amongst many other roles, he was an early director of Business in the Community, chairman of the UK Small Business Consortium, and Managing Director of the Prince’s Youth Business Trust.

He was awarded an OBE for services to industry in 1994, and a CBE for services to disability in 1999.

David is an immensely thoughtful commentator on the state of socially responsible business, amongst other things. We have a great deep dive into the current state of business leadership, and work our way through some of the key insights that came out of the most recent book. It’s undoubtedly an interview deserving of your careful attention!

Show notes

The pivotal change to David’s life that came from a near-death experience at the age of 11 (2:28)
How David had a vision of getting into politics at the age of 10 (3:50)
David ran his first successful community campaign at the age of 15 (5:03)
How David entered the corporate world – and how the willingness to speak truth to power made it happen (6:07)
How David then moved to the NGO world, via the European Commission, as he was searching for his purpose (9:30)
The early influences of the corporate responsibility movement (13:08)
You can change the world if you don’t mind who gets the credit (18:00)
How well was business leadership engaged with the issues at the start? (20:45)
What prompted the writing of the new book ‘All In – The future of business leadership’? (23:15)
Who are the leader companies that have gone ‘All In’? (26:34)
What are the five attributes for companies that have gone ‘All In’? (28:21)
How mainstream can this approach become? Is it always just going to be a small group of leaders? (31:46)
Can society achieve sustainability in the face of mediocre leadership? (36:13)
Why aren’t the tech companies in the leading rank of sustainable businesses? (39:00)
What advice would David give to his younger self? (42:54)
Who has been an impressive change maker that has inspired David? (43:45)
What mistakes has David made that he’s learned from? (44:45)
Books that have inspired David (47:05)
Advice David would give to young people looking to take their first steps into a future where they can make a different to the world (48:25)


The Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility https://www.cranfield.ac.uk/som/research-centres/doughty-centre-for-corporate-responsibility

Business in the Community https://www.bitc.org.uk

All In – The future of business leadership https://amzn.to/2DoZlFs

Globescan survey https://globescan.com/2018-sustainability-leaders-report/

Interface Carpets http://www.interface.com/EU/en-GB/campaign/climate-take-back/Climate-Take-Back-en_GB

Unilever Sustainable Living Plan https://www.unilever.co.uk/sustainable-living/


Small is Beautiful, EF Schumacher https://amzn.to/2DosnoA

Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell https://amzn.to/2PWDoPc

New Power, Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms https://amzn.to/2OJcZV7

Blessed Unrest, Paul Hawken https://amzn.to/2OGOxU7


David on twitter https://twitter.com/davidgrayson_ 

David’s personal website http://www.davidgrayson.net