Various academic authors and practitioner experts have described Stages of Corporate Responsibility Maturity.  A 2014 paper by Doughty Centre Visiting Fellow Ron Ainsbury and Director Prof. David Grayson (Business Critical: Understanding a Company's Current and Desired Stages of Corporate Responsibility Maturity) explores how companies evolve through these stages, described as follows:

  • Stage 1 Denier - not recognising any responsibility for a company’s Social, Environmental and Economic (SEE) impacts;
  • Stage 2 Complier – following laws and common business practices in dealing with SEE impacts;
  • Stage 3 Risk Mitigator - identifying material SEE impacts and reducing negative impacts to mitigate reputational, financial, regulatory, social “licence to operate” risks;
  • Stage 4 Opportunity Maximiser – reducing negative SEE impacts but also now systematically seeking business opportunities from optimising positive impacts the business has;
  • Stage 5 Champion – both embracing sustainability in its own value-chain, but also collaborating with others and advocating public policy changes to create sustainable development.

The position of a business in these Stages of Maturity depends on mindset, which is based on elements such as its time-horizon, focus, outlook, attitudes to transparency and relationships (accountability), collaboration, and business model. This in turn influences business purpose, strategy, organisation, policies and practices; and ultimately performance.

Learn more about our Stages of Corporate Responsibility Maturity in our Occasional Paper and in a video presentation by Prof. David Grayson.

Five Stages of Corporate Maturity - Detail