eight faces to follow in the next 12 monthsJanuary 2007
Whom might we see more of in the corporate responsibility arena during 2007?
EP names some individuals likely to come to greater attention over the year
As vice chair of the International Organization for Standardization’s working group on social responsibility, Soderberg is a key figure in the development of the ISO 26000 guidance standard on social responsibility, which has the potential to become the most important document in the field. Expect to hear more of him this year as the standard, now in its second draft, assumes a more concrete form. Thoughtful and intelligent, Soderberg is manager of sustainability at the Swedish construction company Skanska, which has been ploughing an interesting, if understated, corporate responsibility furrow.
A former Wall Street Journal reporter and ABC News correspondent, Connor is the dynamo behind the awkwardly-named CRO, a new membership body for ‘corporate responsibility officers’ in the US. Already he’s taken over and renamed Business Ethics magazine, and has set up an annual CRO conference that is (deliberately?) close to the date of Business for Social Responsibility’s enormous yearly event. Connor is targeting individuals for membership rather than companies and stresses ‘value for money’. He’s bound to tread on BSR’s toes. If BSR responds, expect interesting times.
Specializing in accounting at Oxford’s Saïd Business School, professor Hopwood has been drafted in by the Prince of Wales to suggest ways in which business can account for the full range of its non-financial impacts. This will be a key debate in 2007, so his deliberations could be influential on any new accounting system that emerges.
As the UK’s shadow corporate responsibility minister, Djanogly will come to the fore this year when the Conservatives unveil their ‘blue skies thinking’ on business responsibility – probably in the summer. A typically youthful member of David Cameron’s team, he will be responsible for challenging the Labour government on its natural turf. Can he wrestle the initiative from the incumbents with some fresh ideas, or will he succumb to the anti-regulatory instincts of his party? The partner in City law firm SJ Berwin has both the enthusiasm and the energy to take the brief into interesting areas.
One of the most persuasive speakers at last year’s TBLI conference in Paris, Williams, who is head of group sustainable development at HSBC bank, puts forward well marshalled arguments that rise above the mundane efforts of so many on the events circuit. He will undoubtedly be in demand as a conference speaker, not least because his company is showing something of a lead on what will be the biggest issue of the year: climate change.
The UK Social Investment Forum, which Shepherd heads, recently extended its mission to promoting ‘responsible and sustainable finance’ rather than just socially responsible investment. This will take it into new areas in 2007 such as responsible lending, deposit-based services and renewables finance. Shepherd will also have plenty of influence via Uksif’s Just Pensions initiative, which is examining companies with a decent CSR record to see if their pension schemes adopt a similarly responsible outlook.
Lambert, the new director-general of the CBI, should steer the UK employers’ body towards a more supportive role on corporate responsibility. The former Financial Times editor has always taken a keen interest in the topic and has already made noises in that direction. Expect keynote speeches this year – under his influence the CBI may also get to grips with the subject internally, perhaps by setting up a CSR unit.
As vice president of corporate strategy and sustainability at Wal-Mart, Ruben should have a big year in 2007. An effective publicist for the world’s largest retail company, he is well prepared for questions, as he showed in front of the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources last year. But there is a question mark over what he and the company will do once they have picked the low-hanging fruit such as energy efficiency improvements. It remains to be seen how Ruben and Wal-Mart will meet the challenge of responsible business practices that do not directly further its commercial interests.
With the number of jobs in the field rising and more people moving around, you may hear a lot more of Leathes this year. The 28-year old is managing director of London-based Acre Resources, one of the few recruitment agencies with a team dedicated to filling CSR and sustainability posts. In the last year the team has grown from three to 12 and with some of its rivals appearing to tread water due to their more diversified approach, 2007 could turn out to be the year Acre establishes itself as leader of the recruiters’ pack.
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