To the acclaim of many, Timothy Mohin delivers what he promises, a "manual on how to steer the corporate supertanker toward doing good for people and our planet." If you have achieved a corporate social responsibility title, or are strategizing to gain that sustainability position, and want to make a difference, Mohin will mentor you through the steps he honed working for Advanced Micro Devices, EORM, Apple, and Intel.

First, he helps those who remember the advent of Superfund cleanup sites, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the discourse on corporate social responsibility, showing the links between them and the more ethical norms now. Forty years ago, if you pursued your dream and your values to advocate for social and environmental justice to protect the planet, then you might have been tagged only as a treehugger. Or if you pursued a living and worked within a corporation, there were few ad hoc sustainability initiatives to express your values. It seemed as if you were either in or out.

Today there are more opportunities to contribute to society and work in business supported by the three pillars of sustainable development: environmental, social and economic. With the evolution of corporate responsibility, a company's honest position on sustainability and social justice differentiates it from its competitors. This is the part that you play.

In Changing Business from the Inside Out, a Treehugger's Guide to Working in Corporations, Mohin outlines, from his experience, how you can (as Liz Maw, CEO Net Impact, exclaimed) "work for societal good from the inside." CSR departments are new to the corporate hierarchy, and Mohin observes there is a "common set of skills and duties that apply." Mohin's practical strategies on how to set up and run a successful corporate responsibility program from a corporate responsibility manager position includes:

  • Designing a CSR program - set the strategy and keep it simple, look for emerging issues and establish a benchmarking program.
  • Measuring data will drive your CSR program as well as clear objectives.
  • Environmental sustainability: build a framework to integrate environmental sustainability into corporate sustainability.
  • A Supplier-Responsibility Program: review supplier behavior on labor and environmental issues; then establish a code of conduct to reverse the race to the bottom.
  • Communications: often overlooked, the single most important skill to create is "compelling, understandable, memorable, and even inspiring messages." A CSR manager works across all company functions and business units.
  • Stakeholders and investors: identify, prioritize, and engage with external stakeholders and socially responsible investors.
  • Employee engagement: how to engage employees in corporate responsibility.  

Mohin, T. J. (2012). Changing business from the inside out: a treehuggers guide to working in corporations. Sheffield, U.K.: Greenleaf Pub. ISBN-13: 978-1609946401
Review by: Christy Nordstrom.