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Corporate social opportunity – Taking ethical risks to market
Contributed by David Grayson and Adrian Hodges   
Growing numbers of companies are seeing opportunities in meeting social and environmental needs, but business as a whole is not moving fast enough, say David Grayson and Adrian Hodges

Global revolutions in technology, markets, demographics and values are giving companies a whole new set of issues that they have to manage urgently.

These issues include the environment, human rights, diversity, health, work-life balance and the community. Historically, these have been regarded as “soft issues”, but they have become “hard” for business: hard to ignore, hard to manage, and very hard for the businesses that get them wrong.

We first marked this trend in our book Everybody’s Business: Managing Risks and Opportunities in Today’s Global Society, in 2001. Three years later, in Corporate Social Opportunity, we further developed our argument that, handled correctly, these issues need not just be about minimising risk, but could become a source of new marketplace insight and a stimulus to innovation. We always saw corporate social opportunity as being a corporate mindset, as well as developments in products and services. UK fruit smoothies maker Innocent Drinks, which has made its commitment to sustainability integral to its brand identity and values, and retailer Marks & Spencer’s Plan A commitment are good examples of what corporate thinking for sustainability can achieve.

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