Simon Zadek

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Simon Zadek is a leading corporate responsibility practitioner who has worked with a number of large transnational companies as well as World Bank initiatives.

According to his website, he is:

a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Centre for Government and Business of Harvard University’s Kennedy School. He founded, and was until recently Chief Executive of AccountAbility, where he established the organisation’s global leadership in sustainability standards, collaborative governance and responsible competitiveness, extending its impact from bases in Beijing, Sao Paulo, London and Washington, and through activities in South Africa and across the Middle East[1].
Simon sits on the International Advisory Board of the Brazilian business network, Instituto Ethos, the Advisory Board of the sustainability fund manager, Generation Investment Management, and the Boards of the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development and the Employers’ Forum on Disability. In 2003 he was named a World Economic Forum ‘Global Leader for Tomorrow’ [2].


Simon Zadek has worked with major Transnational Companies such as Alcoa, AngloGold Ashanti, Bank Itau, Dow, IntelChina, Maersk, Nestle, Shell, The Coca Cola Company, General Electric and Nike[3].

He has also worked with national governments including China and Saudi Arabia on 'responsible competitiveness'[4].

He has made expert panel contributions to the UN Global Compact, the State of the World’s Commission for Globalisation, the ILO’s World Commission on the Social Dimensions of Globalisation, and the UN Commission for Social Development[5].

On Climate Change he has worked on business and adaptation with Project Catalyst, involving McKinsey and the ClimateWorks Foundation[6].

He has written extensively for a number of publications and describes himself as 'shaping narrative' on Corporate Social Responsibility[7].

Recent Assignments

His website lists some recent corporate assignments as:

  • Alcoa: On-going leadership of engagement in developing sustainability strategy, public reporting, building and chairing high-level expert review panel, and most recently working with senior leadership team of Alcoa Latin America in shaping continent wide and site-specific sustainablity strategies and practices.
  • AngloGold Ashanti: Leadership in engagement with corporate leadership team in driving sustainability strategy, alignment of public sustainability reporting with internal risk management and corporate governance and stock exchange listing requirements, and related development of internal systems and competencies.
  • Dow Latin America: Leadership in developing a co-design approach to driving forward product development and market access in the areas of water purification, building materials, and plastics recycling through the development of collaborative arrangements with community and environmental organisations, and public institutions.
  • General Electric: On-going leadership of a five year engagement with GE’s corporate citizenship team that has covered strategic alignment and design of sustainability approach, development of associated public reporting and stakeholder-based assurance, policy development in complex areas such as human rights based on stakeholder engagement, building and chairing high-level external panel of experts to advise on policy and strategy.
  • IntelChina: On-going leadership in providing strategic advise on developing credible and acknowledged leadership in sustainability actions in China, with focus on the role of ICT in supporting the realisation of China’s low carbon intensity targets.
  • Maersk: Led in catalyzing the company’s first integrated sustainability initiative under its then new Chief Executive, mapping practice, building a corporate and core-divisional case, and leading senior executive leadership sessions.
  • Nike: On-going advice to senior leadership team now in its second decade, beginning during the company’s most difficult period in the late 1990s, and extending to its current leadership role in addressing labour standards and in taking sustainability into the business innovation space.[8]

Recent Advisory Assignments (Public) Include:

  • China-Africa Trade and Investment: Leading on-going engagement with the Development Research Centre of the State Council in exploring senior Chinese business leaders perspectives on their company’s activities in China, both now and into the future. Launch of initial work at key events in Beijing, Washington (World Bank) and Harvard with unique coverage on China’s CCTV9 TV channel.
  • South Africa’s Low Carbon Economic Policy: Leading on a multi-phase research initiative with the South Africa Ministry of Trade and Industry into how best to align South Africa’s climate policy with its industrial and economic policies. Focus on the merits and options for establishing international co-operation to support South Africa’s renewable feed-in tariff, linked to a renewables obligation for high-carbon intensity export industries facing potential trade constraints.
  • China’s Sustainable Trade: Contributed to a Chinese-led, multi-agency policy initiative to establish the basis for a long-term, sustainable trade strategy for China. Contribution focused on the place of sustainability practices in the competitiveness of Chinese businesses in global markets, and in particular strategic options for business and public policy.
  • Saudi Arabia’s Competitiveness: Led in establishing with the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority the Saudi Arabian Responsible Competitiveness Initiative with the aim of enhancing the nation’s competitiveness through improved corporate sustainability practices and outcomes, involving the development of a unique company-level assessment tool linked to high-profile recognition at the annual Global Competitiveness Forum.[9]

Recent Publications

  • Zadek, Simon (2009) Tomorrow’s History
  • Zadek, Simon (2009) Revising Plan A,
  • Zadek, Simon, Chen Xiaohong, Li Zhaoxi, Jia Tao, Zhou Yan, Kelly Yu, Maya Forstater (2009) Responsible Business in Africa: Chinese Business Leaders’ Perspectives on Performance and Enhancement Opportunities, Working Paper 54, Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative, Harvard Kennedy School, Cambridge, Mass.
  • Zadek, Simon (2009) Global Governance: Clues from the Front Line, Paper presented as Keynote to European Academy of Business in Society (EABIS) Annual Symposium, Barcelona, Spain.
  • Zadek, Simon (2009) Institutional Arrangements for Advancing Low Carbon Growth and Development, Project Catalyst, London.
  • Zadek, Simon (2009) Needing New Governance,
  • Zadek, Simon and Alex McGillivray (2009) Responsible Competitiveness: the Global Agenda, Saudi Arabian Responsible Competitiveness Index: 13-21, Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority, Ryiadh.
  • Zadek, Simon, Maya Forstater, Fernanda Polacow and João Boffino (2009) Radical Simplicity in Designing National Climate Institutions: Lessons from the Amazon Fund, AccountAbility, London.
  • Forstater, Maya and Simon Zadek (2009) Low Carbon Growth Plans: Assessing Current Practice, European Climate Foundation and Project Catalyst, London.
  • Forstater, Maya, Saleemul Huq and Simon Zadek (2009) Business of Adaptation, AccountAbility, London.
  • Guoqiang, L, Simon Zadek and Joshua Wickerham, J (2009) Advancing Sustainable Competitiveness of China’s Transnational Corporations, Development Research Centre of the State Council with AccountAbility, London.
  • Zadek, Simon (2008) Collaborative Governance: the New Multilateralism for the 21st Century, Published in Global Development 2.0, Brookings Institute, Washington DC.
  • Zadek, Simon (2008) More is Not Enough, in Shaping Up: Scaling Up Voluntary Standards: 8-10, Federal Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development, Bonn.
  • Zadek, Simon and Alex McGillivray (2008) Responsible Competitiveness: Making Sustainability Count in Global Markets, Harvard International Review, Summer 2008: 72-77
  • Cramer, Aron, Jane Nelson, and Simon Zadek (2008) Partnering to Strengthen Public Governance: the Leadership Challenge for CEOs and Boards, World Economic Forum, Geneva.
  • Rochlin, Steve, Simon Zadek and Maya Forstater (2008) Governing Collaboration: Making Partnership Accountable for Delivering Development, AccountAbility, London.
  • Zadek, Simon (2007, 2nd Edition) The Civil Corporation, Earthscan, London.
  • Zadek, Simon (2007), China’s Opportunity to Embrace Responsible Competitiveness, ChinaDialogue.Net



  1. Simon Full Biography Accessed 10/07/10
  2. Simon Full Biography Accessed 10/07/10
  3. Simon Full Biography Accessed 10/07/10
  4. Simon Full Biography Accessed 10/07/10
  5. Simon Full Biography Accessed 10/07/10
  6. Simon Full Biography Accessed 10/07/10
  7. Simon Full Biography Accessed 10/07/10
  8. Simon Full Biography Accessed 10/07/10
  9. Simon Full Biography Accessed 10/07/10