Transformation | Corporate Purpose

At dan pearlman Group’s DAN ACADEMY, we are set to find answers to the crucial question of how we want to live and work. Especially now, this question is more relevant than ever. On the one hand, we all are struggling for answers to the current challenges posed by the corona pandemic. On the other hand, we want to look into the future and encourage you to rethink society and economy with expertise, creativity and optimism.

The Guardian has named David Grayson as one of the ten top global tweeters on sustainable leadership alongside Al Gore, Tim Cook – CEO of Apple – and Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg. He looks back at a 30-year-long career as a social entrepreneur and campaigner for responsible business, diversity, and small business development before he joined Cranfield University in 2007 where he is an Emeritus Professor of Corporate Responsibility.

For our DAN ACADEMY Transformation series, Thorsten Kadel – Board Member and New Work Expert at dan pearlman – invited David to discuss the most pressing questions on corporate responsibility and new work in light of the COVID-19 crisis.

How will Corona affect corporate culture and responsibility? How can we benefit from the crisis in the future?

As an idealistic pragmatist, I do not subscribe either to the view that “nothing will be the same again,” nor to the opposite idea that nothing will change. I am excited by the mantra of the film-maker Richard Curtis and others that we should “Build Back Better.” This also points to the things where, if we work really hard, we might be able to push more change than might otherwise occur. I have already joined a number of on-line conversations on this theme – not least one organised under the auspices of Imperative21. This is a joint initiative of B-Lab, B-Team, CECP, Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism, Conscious Capitalism and JUST Capital: united under the banner that “Capitalism must work for all of us and for the long-term.” A nascent UK coalition, loosely affiliated to Imperative21 is looking at what a new economic system that is inclusive, sustainable and fair, would entail.

In our conversations, we are looking at what does building back better concretely look like, whether it’s in terms of:
– the world of work – the potential for accelerating digitalisation, remote and virtual work,
– the social contract between the state and people,
– rethinking the rights of workers in the gig economy,
– and corporate responsibility.

Each of us will have our own ideas about the priorities in building back better. For me, it starts with rethinking the purpose of business. I think we will see a lot of pressure around those businesses that aren’t very clear about their responsibilities beyond the law, including cultural, sustainable, ethical and in the end purposeful issues.

Looking at new work: what do you think is the future role of the workplace at home vs. the workplace at the office?

First of all, we have to be very careful and consider the multiple conditions around working from home. Especially young professionals often share a flat or live in tiny spaces due to their income and exorbitant rental costs they’re facing. In this case, you probably want to get back to the office as soon as you can.

Secondly, we have to recognise that in the end of the day, we are social animals. I think that the idea that most of the people will want to work remotely when the pandemic is over, will be worn out by sociology. Nevertheless, I believe that what we will see are more organisations thinking about how they can support their people who like to work more of their time remotely and virtually. And you might well find that there is also the option of having equivalents to wework and other kind of shared spaces much closer to home…

Check out the full interview below!

Or learn more in David Grayson’s new book All In – The Future of Business Leadership.

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Prof. david Grayson

… Prof. David Grayson is Emeritus Professor of Corporate Responsibility at Cranfield University.