The Difference MakersSeptember 2008
Sandra Waddock. Paperback. 320 pages. Greenleaf Publishing. £21.95.
Who makes a difference? And how do they do it? This book is Sandra Waddock’s answer to these questions. Waddock, professor of management at Boston College in the US, tells the stories of 23 people who have made a difference in the world of corporate responsibility. She does this mainly in their own words, making the entire book very readable.
The stories begin with Alice Tepper Marlin, who is largely responsible for the creation of the SA8000 workplace standard, and continue with Bob Dunn of Business for Social Responsibility and John Elkington of SustainAbility, among others. It’s interesting to hear the role that serendipity, as well as commitment and hard work, has played in the history of so many of these figures. And it explains why many CSR organizations look and work the way they do. Perhaps the most interesting chapter comes at the end, where rather than describing the genesis of their institution, each personality outlines the vision that pulled them there.
For Waddock, difference makers begin by ‘re-framing’ the way things are done, then look for opportunities to work within existing structures to change them, and finally create or use networks to embed that change. This explains why there is little place in this book for NGO figures, as they generally work outside companies and often campaign directly against them. But among the many thousands of people who have made a difference, how were the 23 selected? There is something of a US bias here and perhaps also one towards men: only five of the stories are told by women.
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