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The Latest Corporate Social Responsibility News - An Inside Job: Social Intrapreneurs Promote Sustainability From Within Corporations

In 1978, Gifford and Elizabeth Pinchot coined the term "intrapreneur" to describe innovators who create change from within corporations, obviously riffing on the term "entrepreneur." Almost a quarter century later, the Pinchots co-founded Bainbridge Graduate Institute, the first MBA program to integrate sustainability at its core. This bold move exemplifies "social entrepreneurship," a current buzzword for applying innovation to promote social and environmental sustainability that is the focus of a new book (The Power of Unreasonable People co-authored by SustainAbility founder John Elkington), a foundation (The Skoll Foundation established by eBay's first president Jeff Skoll), and annual awards (Fast Company Social Capitalist Awards.)

Now, a buzz is building around social intrapreneurship. John Elkington just co-authored a report (sponsored by the Skoll Foundation and others) entitled
The Social Intrapreneurs: A Field Guide for Corporate Changemakers. The guide profiles prominent social intrapreneurs from multinational corporations such as Unilever, Nike, BP, Cemex, Coca-Cola, Dow, and Shell, among others. It also proposes a playful taxonomy of tactical and strategic characteristics: the stamina of a donkey, a "lone" wolf, a giraffe with head in the clouds and feet on the ground, and beaver who transforms landscapes.

The report highlights the need for mindset shifts, pointing to another report released late last year: the
Avastone Corporate Sustainability Study (ACSS) entitled Mindsets in Action. Instead of profiling individual intrapreneurs, the study explores the intrapreneurial mindset and profiles ten companies across five stages of sustainability (as defined by SustainAbility’s Corporate Responsibility Gearbox): comply, volunteer, partner, integrate, and redesign. The report finds that none of the surveyed companies has reached the fourth stage, and none even view the fifth (arguably most important) stage as business-relevant.

For yet another social intrapraneurial storyline, check out Michael Conroy's book
Branded!: How the "Certification Revolution" is Transforming Global Corporations. Conroy, an economics professor for 25 years before becoming a foundation program officer seeding certification schemes, profiles influencers he interacted with on both sides of the inside/outside divide. His sketches demonstrate the vital importance of corporate actors in driving certification forward, such as Rachel Kyte of the International Finance Corporation and Pamela Flaherty of Citi in the development of the Equator Principles, Michael Kowalski of Tiffany & Co. engaging with the "No Dirty Gold" campaign, and Bob Stiller of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters on integrating Fair Trade into corporate culture.

This article was written by CSRwire contributor Bill Baue.

CSRwire's Top Multimedia Picks of the Week

Packed with interesting statistics, this “
20-Now Action Forum" video is a great snippet of last week’s forum which focused on the business case for investing in green building. • The New York Times put together a fascinating and somewhat disturbing video about the current drought in Australia and its long-term global implications. • Discovery's new Planet Green channel - devoted to helping the environment - will be launching June 4th around the world. Check out this highlight from "Wasted," one of the new shows) • Fortune’s David Kirkpatrick interviews the always-brilliant Jane Benyus, the woman who coined the now-famous phrase "Biomimicry," the idea that by "mimicking" nature we can design products that will be both beneficial and sustainable.

CSRwire accepts multimedia contributions to its Video, Commentary and Research section,

To read the latest corporate social responsibility news from Mercy Corps, Blackbaud, Innovest and other leading socially responsible organizations, visit

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