Alison has spent the past two decades consulting with multinational companies on risk, anti-corruption, sustainability, human rights, culture and behavior, stakeholder engagement, ESG, and ethics and compliance–including as a senior advisor at sustainability nonprofit BSR, a member of the Board at Venture ESG, and a sustainability adviser at Zai Lab, KKR, and Pictet Group.

Alison Taylor is a clinical associate professor at NYU Stern School of Business, and the executive director at Ethical Systems. Her previous work experience includes being a Managing Director at non-profit business network BSR and a Senior Managing Director at Control Risks. She holds advisory roles at KKR, VentureESG, sustainability non-profit BSR, Pictet Group, and Zai Lab, and is a member of the World Economic Forum Global Future Council on Good Governance. She has expertise in strategy, sustainability, political and social risk, culture and behavior, human rights, ethics and compliance, stakeholder engagement, anti corruption and professional responsibility. Her book Higher Ground: How Business Can do the Right Thing in a Turbulent World was published by Harvard Business Review Press in February 2024. Alison received her Bachelor of Arts in Modern History from Balliol College, Oxford University, her MA in International Relations from the University of Chicago, and MA in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University.

Speech topics

How to rethink leadership for the 2020s

CEO job descriptions are changing, reflecting the expectation that leaders of today display social skills and knowledge of key topics such as sustainability and diversity. More broadly, expectations from young people over what they want and expect from leaders are in flux. Barking orders from the top is out, providing mentorship, support and psychological safety is in. How can the leaders of today meet these expectations without fueling internal conflict and undermining performance? How can leaders provide clarity, consistency and direction, without overpromising?

How to build an ethical culture

In the era of radical transparency, young employees take to social media to hold companies accountable. Culture is on full display to the public, and has never been more of an advantage—or disadvantage. How can leaders build and sustain ethical cultures in an era of overpromising, greenwashing and bad advice?

When and how to speak up on controversial issues

In the late 2010s, many CEOs began enthusiastically speaking up on controversial issues such as racial justice, immigration, climate change and geopolitics. This has led to political backlash, reputational risk and unrealistic expectations. How can leaders figure out when and how to engage, when vocal stakeholders are pushing them to go further and faster on an ever expanding list of issues? How can they manage allegations of hypocrisy and overpromising?

How to understand and manage the ESG backlash

Companies today are trapped between the Scylla of unrealistic expectations they solve intractable societal challenges, and the Charibys of organized political backlash. Abandoning efforts on corporate responsibility, diversity and climate change is not a realistic option, if you'd like to attract and retain young employees and consumers. But the current status quo has become unworkable. How can leaders chart a path forward through these daunting pressures?


Higher Ground: How Business Can Do the Right Thing in a Turbulent World

An indispensable guide to help companies navigate the new era of ethical challenges and risks in a volatile global landscape.

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