The most recommended books on corporate social responsibility

Who picked these books? Meet our 15 experts.

15 authors created a book list connected to corporate social responsibility, and here are their favorite corporate social responsibility books.
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Book cover of The New Corporation: How "Good" Corporations Are Bad for Democracy

Max Wilbert Author Of Bright Green Lies: How the Environmental Movement Lost Its Way and What We Can Do about It

From Max's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Community organizer Wilderness guide Foraging enthusiast

Max's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Max Wilbert Why did Max love this book?

This book tackles the phenomenon of socially responsible corporations, ESG (Environmental and Social Governance), and business sustainability efforts.

Bakan argues that while corporate messaging has changed, global capitalism continues to be built on the destruction of the natural world, exploitation of workers, inequality, and pollution.  

By Joel Bakan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The New Corporation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A deeply informed and unflinching look at the way corporations have slyly rebranded themselves as socially conscious entities ready to tackle society's problems, while CEO compensation soars, income inequality is at all-time highs, and democracy sits in a precarious situation.
 
“A very important book, an arresting study directed to a central issue of the times” (Noam Chomsky), from the author of The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power.

Over the last decade and a half, business leaders have been calling for a new kind of capitalism. With income inequality soaring, wages stagnating, and a climate crisis escalating, they…


Book cover of Connect: How Companies Succeed by Engaging Radically with Society

Anne Bahr Thompson Author Of Do Good: Embracing Brand Citizenship to Fuel Both Purpose and Profit

From my list on shifting the role business plays in society.

Why am I passionate about this?

I pivoted into brand consulting after working in banking, because I saw a need to align organizational behaviors and actions with purpose and values. So naturally, as a strategist my work has always informally included an element of coaching brands and people to have the courage and confidence to be their best, true selves. To have a broader societal vision and positive social impact. Since the Me-to-We continuum of Brand Citizenship emerged unsolicited in research, I also have been on a larger mission to help business balance how it earns a profit with how it serves individual people, betters society, and regenerates the planet.

Anne's book list on shifting the role business plays in society

Anne Bahr Thompson Why did Anne love this book?

I strongly believe business leaders and brands must engage with all stakeholders (including society and the planet) to thrive – and this is the essence of John Browne’s message in Connect.

Browne, a former CEO of BP, contrasts positive engagement with traditional corporate social responsibility, which he contends is often more about complying with laws and regulations and looking good rather than doing good. 

The first half of the book provides real world examples of how corporate success is dependent on greater engagement with society.

And the second examines Browne’s four tenets of connected leadership – map your world, define your contribution, apply world class management, engage radically – and how companies can exemplify them going forward and profitably place society at the heart of business.

By John Browne, Robin Nuttall, Tommy Stadlen

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Connect as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why being radically connected with society is not just the right thing to do, it is an imperative for a company's bottom line Based on John Browne's decades of experience as one of the world's most successful and innovative CEOs, with research by McKinsey & Company, Connect is a practical manifesto that redefines the role of business in society. Through insightful analysis and vivid storytelling--ranging from ancient China, Andrew Carnegie and the Homestead Strike of the late nineteenth century, to oil spills and privacy issues emanating from the technology of the twenty--first--Connect explores the recurring rift between business and society…


Book cover of Bring Your Human to Work: 10 Surefire Ways to Design a Workplace That Is Good for People, Great for Business, and Just Might Change the World

Bruno R. Cignacco Author Of The Art of Compassionate Business: Main Principles for the Human-Oriented Enterprise

From my list on conscious business.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a consultant, author, and researcher, for several years I have been very passionate about the study of companies that are very successful in the marketplace, but that are also human-oriented. In other words, I am very interested in companies that are profitable, but at the same time, are kind, compassionate, and caring with their main stakeholders. I like that these companies continually aim to foster robust long-term relationships with these stakeholders, and look for win-win agreements with them. What I love about these companies is that they focus on the quantitative aspects of business (e.g., profitability, growth, etc.) but also in its qualitative aspects (empathy, support, gratitude, generosity, etc.).

Bruno's book list on conscious business

Bruno R. Cignacco Why did Bruno love this book?

I really like this book because it provides the reader with very actionable ways to develop a more human-oriented workplace. I found interesting the way this book thoroughly dissects relevant themes related to the work environment, such as: the importance of an authentic voice, employee wellness, the significance of sustainable actions, and the value of giving back, among others. It is very useful that this book includes several examples of companies to illustrate these topics. I found it valuable that each relevant theme discussed in this book is accompanied by a human action plan, with very practical suggestions.  

By Erica Keswin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bring Your Human to Work as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The secret to business success? Get REAL and be HUMAN!

As human beings, we are built to connect and form relationships. So, it should be no surprise that relationships must also translate into the workplace, where we spend most of our time! Companies that recognize this will retain the most productive, creative, and loyal employees, and invariably seize the competitive edge.

The most successful leaders are those who actively form quality relationships with their employees, who honor fundamental human qualities-authenticity, openness, and basic politeness-and apply them day in and day out. Paying attention and genuinely caring about the effects people…


Book cover of Better Business: How the B Corp Movement Is Remaking Capitalism

John Montgomery Author Of Net Zero Business Models: Winning in the Global Net Zero Economy

From my list on creating a sustainable economy for our children.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a corporate lawyer, I saw first-hand that corporations lack a comprehensive social and environmental conscience. I had begun to experiment with articles and bylaws when I met one of the founders of B-Lab, the creator of the B-Corp and architect behind the benefit corporation, in 2008. I have been working to upgrade the operating principles of the economy ever since. I was the co-chair of the legal working group for California’s benefit corporation legislation and my former law firm was one of the first law firms to become a B Corp. I’m highly motivated to leave a habitable planet to our children and grandchildren.

John's book list on creating a sustainable economy for our children

John Montgomery Why did John love this book?

The prevailing corporate form renders corporations prone to anti-social and environmentally destructive behavior because they are designed to maximize profits for shareholders without considering the consequences to society and the environment.

I love Better Business because it tells the story of the creation of an emergent alternative corporate form, the B-Corp with benefit corporation governance, that provides a material positive benefit to society and the environment in addition to making profits for shareholders.  

A sustainable economy not only requires new economic principles, but also new corporate forms that are endowed with a social and environmental conscience in addition to the usual pecuniary one. Better Business introduces you to these new corporate forms without bogging you down in legalese.

By Christopher Marquis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Better Business as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A compelling look at the B Corp movement and why socially and environmentally responsible companies are vital for everyone's future-"a valuable guide to an important force" (Financial Times)

"An important blueprint for how businesses can and should be both successful and a force for good."-Rose Marcario, President and CEO, Patagonia

"Better Business is the book to read if you want to put values and purpose at the center of your company. It's an inspiring book with great insights to share."-Jerry Greenfield, co-founder, Ben & Jerry's

Gold Medalist in the Business Ethics category, 2021 Axiom Business Book Awards and longlisted for…


Book cover of Real Impact: The New Economics of Social Change

Kusi Hornberger Author Of Scaling Impact: Finance and Investment for a Better World

From my list on investing for impact.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Partner at Dalberg Global Development Advisors, where I lead a lot of our finance and investment advisory work with development finance institutions, family offices, and impact investors. I also serve on several impact investment and field-building organization advisory boards and regularly contribute to the ecosystem through thought leadership and speaking engagements at leading conferences. Over the course of my 20+ year career, I have played the role of advisor, investor, and technical assistance provider on more than 200 individual projects across the globe.   

Kusi's book list on investing for impact

Kusi Hornberger Why did Kusi love this book?

This is an inspiring read from a real changemaker.

Morgan is also someone I have had the pleasure of getting to know through the impact investing conference circuit, and I enjoyed reading her firsthand account of how she combined her social activist desires with the practical tools of finance and investment to create ‘real impact.’

One of my favorite sections of the book was on her early days and successes with shareholder activism. This book and her story are ones that many impact-minded leaders can learn from. 

By Morgan Simon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Real Impact as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Impact investment, the support of social and environmental projects with a financial return, has become a hot topic in the world's philanthropy and development circles, and is growing exponentially: in the next decade, it is poised to eclipse traditional aid by ten times. Yet for all the excitement, there is work to do to ensure it actually realizes its potential. Will impact investment empower millions of people worldwide, or will it just replicate the same failures that have plagued the aid and antipoverty industry?

Enter Morgan Simon. When she was a twenty-year-old college student at Swarthmore, Simon compelled Lockheed Martin…


Book cover of Manifesto for a Moral Revolution: Practices to Build a Better World

Kusi Hornberger Author Of Scaling Impact: Finance and Investment for a Better World

From my list on investing for impact.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Partner at Dalberg Global Development Advisors, where I lead a lot of our finance and investment advisory work with development finance institutions, family offices, and impact investors. I also serve on several impact investment and field-building organization advisory boards and regularly contribute to the ecosystem through thought leadership and speaking engagements at leading conferences. Over the course of my 20+ year career, I have played the role of advisor, investor, and technical assistance provider on more than 200 individual projects across the globe.   

Kusi's book list on investing for impact

Kusi Hornberger Why did Kusi love this book?

I recommend this book for any leader seeking to better understand their ‘why’. I have long admired Jacqueline Novogratz and Acumen and while not her most famous book, this one really gets deep into the inside of what motivates Jacqueline and the work she does at Acumen.

As someone who considers themselves to be values-led, I deeply admire how Jacqueline doesn’t shy away from the ethics of financing social and impact enterprises and instead leans in to explain her thinking in this book and to challenge our collective moral imagination about what is right.

It is also filled with useful examples and interviews with changemakers across the globe, which helps bring her work and the concepts in the book to life. A must-read for anyone interested in impact-first investing. 

By Jacqueline Novogratz,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Manifesto for a Moral Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"An instant classic." ―Arianna Huffington
"Will inspire people from across the political spectrum." ―Jonathan Haidt

Longlisted for the Porchlight Business Book of the Year Award, an essential shortlist of leadership ideas for everyone who wants to do good in this world, from Jacqueline Novogratz, author of the New York Times bestseller The Blue Sweater and founder and CEO of Acumen.

In 2001, when Jacqueline Novogratz founded Acumen, a global community of socially and environmentally responsible partners dedicated to changing the way the world tackles poverty, few had heard of impact investing―Acumen’s practice of “doing well by doing good.” Nineteen years…


Book cover of Worn Out: How Our Clothes Cover Up Fashion's Sins

Stacy Igel Author Of Embracing the Calm in the Chaos: How to Find Success in Business and Life Through Perseverance, Connection, and Collaboration

From my list on memoirs about thought leaders who created brands.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Chicago and at a very young age worked in retail. While my mom was building her own brand, lumbar support called the “back machine”, I watched the process and got to shadow her to understand what the customers’ needs were. I went to the University of Wisconsin in Madison and triple majored in Design, Retail, and Business. I then moved to NYC and launched my brand BOY MEET GIRL® in 2001. When I couldn’t find a book on a woman building a brand who was also a mother I knew I had to write my book to show others how you can do it.

Stacy's book list on memoirs about thought leaders who created brands

Stacy Igel Why did Stacy love this book?

I have been in the fashion industry for over two + decades and have been fortunate to work with Alyssa Hardy the author of this book. She has featured me in several articles she writes for and has been a model in one of my anti-bullying campaigns.

Why I would recommend her book is not only because I think she is a rock star but because how important her book is to our society. It gives a real insider look at the rise of “fast fashion” and the abuse and neglect of garment workers.

By Alyssa Hardy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Worn Out as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An insider's look at how the rise of "fast fashion" obstructs ethical shopping and fuels the abuse and neglect of garment workers

"With years of expertise in the fashion industry, Alyssa's reporting is consistently deep and thoughtful, and her work on sustainability and ethics has changed how I view the clothes I wear."
-Brittney McNamara, features director at Teen Vogue

Ours is the era of fast fashion: a time of cheap and constantly changing styles for consumers of every stripe, with new clothing hitting the racks every season as social media-fueled tastes shift.

Worn Out examines the underside of our…


Book cover of The Homeboy Way: A Radical Approach to Business and Life

Joe Contrera Author Of Extraordinary Results for Life: Discover Your Path to Be UN-ordinary

From my list on transforming your business and your life!.

Why am I passionate about this?

For nearly 40 years, I have studied and written about blending the business world and the spiritual side of life together. By spiritual, I mean everything to do with our purpose and why we exist. I refer to this as being ALIVE @ WORK ®. We spend countless hours at work doing a j-o-b, when what we want most is knowing that we are making a difference in our lives and the lives of others. The key is taking 100% responsibility for our lives, knowing we have the power to change them in an instant. You will find this thread woven through all of my books and those I recommend.

Joe's book list on transforming your business and your life!

Joe Contrera Why did Joe love this book?

This is a very recent addition to my list. It will take you on an incredible journey with a man (the author) from a career with multi-billion-dollar businesses (Aramark) to being the CEO of Homeboy Industries, the most successful gang rehabilitation program in the world.

It is his journey from one world to the next as he shares the need for us to radically change the way we do business in this country. In my opinion, “The Great Resignation” and “Quiet Quitting” are just symptoms of why we need to desperately change. You may ask yourself, “What do gangs and business have in common? Read this book and find out!  

By Thomas Vozzo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Homeboy Way as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Leading with heart, authenticity and purpose, Thomas Vozzo provides a clear path to a new bottom line—including 55 rules to break—bringing the Homeboy Way to life as the perfect anecdote to the massive tidal currents of social injustice and inequities.

By every traditional measurement of success, Vozzo was a clear winner. In his world of billion-dollar revenues and million-dollar profits, he knew exactly what shareholders wanted and how to get it for them.

Then, through a series of fateful events, Vozzo landed as CEO of Homeboy Industries, the most successful gang intervention, rehabilitation, and re-entry program in the country, founded…


Book cover of Accountable: The Rise of Citizen Capitalism

Gil Winch PhD Author Of Winning with Underdogs: How Hiring the Least Likely Candidates Can Spark Creativity, Improve Service, and Boost Profits for Your Business

From my list on workplace social justice with true-life stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

Most of the one billion people with disabilities in the world are chronically unemployed. Years ago, I set out on a mission to research why that is, and to then attempt to prove that people with disabilities and others are not unemployed for lack of ability. I discovered that we all lack understanding regarding what they need in order to bring their considerable abilities to bare. Fifteen years ago, I founded CY, a for-profit company as a proving ground and showcase for the solutions I found. Over 1,500 employees, 5 weddings, and two court cases later – I have quite a story to tell.   

Gil's book list on workplace social justice with true-life stories

Gil Winch PhD Why did Gil love this book?

Accountable is a highly researched book filled with case studies and interesting stats to help make the author's case – that Capitalism needs some adjustments. It's especially important for people who don't fully buy into the modern rhetoric and abundant lip service of large companies regarding their "good doing" and self-stated "care" for communities, employees, and stakeholders. It grants an eye-opening perspective regarding the real motivations of business leaders and the incredible power their corporations wield. The many case studies of large and global companies convincingly demonstrate the danger we all face if that power is left unchecked and its wielders are left unaccountable to the globe we live in and the people that inhabit it. 

By Michael O'Leary, Warren Valdmanis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Accountable as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Uses a combination of great stories and thoughtful analysis to suggest that we must find a way to change the purpose of our corporations if we are to build a society that works for all of us.
Rebecca M. Henderson, John & Natty McArthur University Professor at Harvard University

"Fresh, balanced, highly readable and deeply informed"
John Pepper, former Chairman and CEO of P&G

"Thought-provoking and insightful, Accountable offers a pragmatic and original roadmap to transform capitalism into a system that's more inclusive, sustainable, and just."
Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, President of The Rockefeller Foundation

Capitalism is failing and the…


Book cover of The Social Entrepreneur’s Handbook: How to Start, Build, and Run a Business That Improves the World

Alex Counts Author Of Changing the World Without Losing Your Mind: Leadership Lessons from Three Decades of Social Entrepreneurship

From my list on social entrepreneurship and why it is so important.

Why am I passionate about this?

Alex Counts founded Grameen Foundation and became its President and CEO in 1997. A Cornell University graduate, Counts’s commitment to poverty eradication deepened as a Fulbright scholar in Bangladesh, where he trained under Professor Muhammad Yunus, the founder and managing director of Grameen Bank, and co-recipient of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. Since its modest beginnings, Grameen Foundation has grown to become a leading international humanitarian organization. Today he is an independent consultant to mission-driven organizations, a prolific writer, and an adjunct faculty member at the University of Maryland who loves to teach nonprofit leadership and related subjects. 

Alex's book list on social entrepreneurship and why it is so important

Alex Counts Why did Alex love this book?

This guidebook in the form of a memoir, or memoir in the form of a guidebook, is both highly entertaining and profoundly useful.  Through brutally honest stories from his years leading FINCA, the global microfinance network, Scofield shows how social change happens: one mistake, one insight, and one breakthrough at a time.  By laying them out so clearly and in such a reader-friendly format, he has provided a valuable gift to a new generation of changemakers.

By Rupert Scofield,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Social Entrepreneur’s Handbook as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"The reader gains an insightful view of the author's personal journey and the processes involved when setting up a social enterprise. Its distinctive style makes it useful for readers who are looking for a thorough account of setting up a not-for-profit organisation or social enterprise" Phoenix, Jan 2012