For businesses to have a fighting chance of enduring success, they can no longer be half-hearted or tentative about sustainability, according to a new book co-authored by Cranfield School of Management Emeritus Professor David Grayson CBE.

Businesses now have to go ‘All in’ to secure long-term commercial success and, business leaders must proactively engage with society and embrace circular economy models to survive and thrive.

Written by three leading thinkers in the field of sustainability - David Grayson (Cranfield School of Management), Chris Coulter (GlobeScan) and Mark Lee (SustainAbility) -  ‘All In’ identifies the essential attributes of high-impact corporate sustainability leadership and describes how companies can combine and apply those characteristics for future success.

The book draws on the perspectives of thousands of experts globally as collected via the GlobeScan-SustainAbility Leaders Survey over two decades and reveals insights from dozens of interviews with Chairs, CEOs and Chief Sustainability Officers explaining how they have gained recognition, created value and boosted resiliency based on their corporate sustainability leadership.

This is illustrated through examples featuring pioneering global companies, including 3M, Google, GE, Huawei, IKEA, Nike, Patagonia, Tata, and Toyota, as well as detailed case studies highlighting two of the Leaders Surveys’ top performers over time, Interface and Unilever.

‘All In’ defines a leadership framework for the long-term success of companies built around five key attributes.

  • Purpose - a societal Purpose beyond profit maximization that galvanizes the organization to make a substantive positive difference in the world, and which describes how the business creates value both for business and society (e.g. Nestlé, IKEA)
  • Plan - a comprehensive Plan to embed sustainability throughout the business (e.g. Walmart, Marks & Spencer)
  • Culture - an innovative, empowering, open and accountable Culture which enables all other attributes (e.g. Nike, Google)
  • Collaboration - the skill and will to identify and undertake Collaboration in support of the Purpose and Plan (e.g. through the Consumer Goods Forum and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition)
  • Advocacy - an Advocacy approach characterized by speaking up and speaking out for pro­ sustainable development policies, norms and behaviors and broader systemic change

David Grayson CBE, Emeritus Professor of Corporate Responsibility at Cranfield School of Management, said: “All In focuses on the role of the private sector and concludes that business leadership in sustainable development is central to developing and maintaining the kind of markets and economies that the environment and society need to thrive. Today’s multinational businesses have unparalleled scale and reach, touching thousands of suppliers and billions of consumers across hundreds of countries. They are the most global set of actors in existence, with both the ability and responsibility to drive greater sustainability across markets and society.”

“Looking to the future, we see a fourth epoch of corporate sustainability leadership on the horizon, which we are labelling The Regenerative Era. We believe that as we get closer to 2025 there will be a critical mass of companies committing to a circular economy or closed-loop approach to business, as well as a redesign of business models to optimize the economic, environmental and social positives of all they do.”

For more information about the book and the authors please visit:

About Cranfield University

Cranfield has been a world leader in management education and research for over 50 years, helping individuals and organisations learn and succeed by transforming knowledge into action. We are dedicated to creating responsible management thinking, improving business performance and inspiring the next generation of business leaders. We work to change the lives of our students and executives by encouraging innovation and creative thinking, as well as the drive to succeed and make a real impact on their organisations.

Organisations as diverse as Jaguar Land Rover, BAE Systems, Royal Dutch Shell, L’Oréal, UNICEF and the African Development Bank have benefited from our work, which ranges from management research projects, through staff talent management development on our MBA courses, to customised executive programmes.

Cranfield is one of an elite group of Schools worldwide to hold the triple accreditation of: AACSB International (the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), EQUIS (European Quality Improvement System) and AMBA (the Association of MBAs).

We are in the Top 10 International Business Schools in the Forbes’ ranking.

Our open and customised executive education programmes are ranked in the top five in the UK, according to the latest Financial Times survey, and in the top ten in the world for international reach. Over 10,000 people come to Cranfield each year to benefit from our executive and professional development programmes.