Responsible Leadership

Executive summary

The report had been based on the leadership responsibilities that had helped the organization “Cotton-on” to implement the strategies and had benefited the organization in the past twelve months, the report had provided the description of responsible leadership and how it can help an organization. The actions had been taken by the organization for enacting responsible leadership, and the framework applied by the organization. The reason for the chosen framework along with the effects it had on the organization. The relevance of the framework with the academic theory had also been explained. Three recommendations had been provided to the leadership of the organization, which would help them, in the long run, to be more successful and competitive in the market.


There have been numerous fashion brands available in the Australian market that looks into strategic way of decision-making processes as well as working upon the framework for growth and development. The purpose is going to be analyzing such practices for the last 12 months. The Scope of the report is to explain how leadership responsibility works, and how it has helped the organization to achieve the best profits.


Background of the organization and its responsible leadership

The Cotton-on group is the largest retailer in Australia, founded in 1991 with a single store in Victoria. In a span of fourteen years the company has grown to open 70 stores across Australia and planning for twenty more in the coming five years (, 2020a). The company has it's stirred across the globe owing to providing leading fashion at a reasonable price.

The current report will throw deeper insight on the Cotton On brand focusing on its key contributions and practices of responsible leadership. It will draw mainly on the frameworks opted by the organization in order to implement responsible leadership practices.

Concept of Responsible Leadership

Responsible leadership is referred to the management of the interaction between an organization and the society, that helps is to fulfill the concerns of stakeholders ‘along with contributing to the improvement of the financial conditions of the organization. The leader is one who can plan and mediate all the interaction that takes place among all the stakeholders in an organization. As opined by Ellis (2020), responsible leadership aims to do best for the organization's benefits as well as encourage everyone in order to bring in a positive outlook.

Analysis of Organizations Responsible Leadership

Comparison and Contrast of the evidence for responsible leadership within the organization for 12 months

Responsible leadership has emerged as a primary principle in the management system in organizations that have helped the world to overcome the economic crisis. According to Doh, & Quigley (2014), responsible leadership acts as a strategic considerable traction in the contemporary management scholarship. In relation to Cotton On, it has been associated with the responsible managers and corporate body having contributed to the business in respect of finding ethical and effective outcome on the business. For example, most of senior executives such as mainly the CEO have contributed on developing the entrepreneurial spirit of the business through community development (OUR LEADERS - Cotton on Group, 2020).

On the contrary, Carroll (2016), have stated against this respect that shows that a part of responsible leadership concern is to throw deeper insight on four dimensional aspects of corporate social responsibility. It has drawn towards serious issues that were also identified while research. From an online review, Singer(2020), it has been recognized well further that due to a low-cost clothing businesses in the retail sector, there has been a black mark on the fashion, which lead Cotton On to come down from the rank of outstanding performance to average (Singer, 2020). However, on the other hand, it was also found that leaders such as the CFO has focused on its risk and sustainability issues with serious concerns in the market that has made its issues suppress to some extent (OUR LEADERS - Cotton on Group, 2020).This kind of contribution included some extent of managing the Financial Treasury and Funding issues in advance for having better market expansion. In this respect, as per Carrol, it has indicated on another aspect of responsible leadership here, which has mainly taken the side of taking the serious issues of legal and ethical way of doing the business in the market as well.

Moreover, it has been contradicted by Borova &Pohorielova (2019), that responsible leadership is also to come forward to share ideas and discuss for finding solutions of a problem. In this respect, it demonstrates that for the last 12 months, Cotton On had also some other associated seniors like the General Manager handled some of the Operational risks in the business as well (OUR LEADERS - Cotton on Group, 2020).This tries to throw light on the concerns of stakeholder relationship that the Company has maintained besides, number of risks and sustainability issues are concerned.

However, as per Cismas, Dona &Andreiasu (2016), it was identified that responsible leaders of an organization act ethically in terms of gaining competitive advantage as well. It had mainly looked into social media platforms in the process of maintaining public relationship with time and changing digital platforms as well (, 2020). There had been some limitations in the fashion streets in boutique designs as well as commitment levels from the end of the organization during many years that gave some awkward situations in respect of this business. Naturally, this kind of situation was handled from behalf of the organization through its social media platform that is twitter profile that gave maximization of customer reviews.

 Twitter profile of Cotton On

This graph shows that socially, the organization has tried to retain its customers’ choice and manage their preferences in fashion qualities and services online as well. Although, it cannot be assumed that throughout the last 12 months, it had promoted in such a way. However, this initiative has been taken from behalf of the Marketing managers with latest AI powered social media marketing aspects. Thus, it also highlights one positive aspect of responsible leadership practices.

Evaluation of organization’s responsible leadership against one leadership framework

According to LeBaron (2020), Cotton On organization has displayed their responsible leadership by putting an end to modern slavery which has been practiced by many organizations for ages. The company has shown zero tolerance towards any form of modern slavery that includes forced labor, human trafficking, and enslavement. The leadership of Cotton On stands committed towards an ethical transparent approach towards business, in order to ensure effective controls and system be in place to safeguard their business or supply chains from any form of practices of modern slavery (, 2020). The organization has taken every initiative to address the risks that has been lurking within their business or supply chains arising out of modern slavery and human trafficking (, 2020c).The responsible leadership of the organization shows that being responsible towards the organization is not the end, but taking the responsibility of the community is a much bigger duty for the leaders.

According to Haque, Fernando &Caputi (2019), the Cotton On organization has been working on the ethical issues and has addressed a lot of ethical issues, but still the transparency has been lacking in their operations and supply chain networks. The company has not been able to give a full disclosure of the sustainable practices which shows the lack of clarity among the leadership of the organization and has been a constraint towards exhibiting responsible leadership. The organization does not publish so much of relevant information about their environmental policies, in order to receive higher ratings, and this confidentiality has been raising doubts in the mind of many individuals (, 2020). The company has been using a number of unsustainable materials to manufacture huge quantities of cheaply made garments which has been causing a detrimental impact on the environment as well as on the community. Overall this incident has been questioning the responsibility of the leadership of the organization and has raised an apprehension that whether the leaders of the organization are truly playing their role or not.

Explanation of chosen responsible leadership framework in support of Academic Theory and Research on Responsible leadership

The strategic concept of stakeholder engagement theory is to have effective way of assimilation of various stakeholders in association with a team building for the purpose of unified mission goal. According to Fordham & Robinson (2018), stakeholder leadership would play an important role in fostering responsible leadership through sustainable approaches taken forward to this mission. This builds on the idea of engaging into leadership that can help to integrate the viewpoints that are well-matched with both the stakeholder’s view of responsible leadership and the economic or strategic views of the organization. The Cotton On Group has shown the aspect of shared leadership in order to be more responsible leaders for the organization by taking a strong stance against the practices of modern slavery. The organization has taken every initiative to prevent any forms of forced labour, enslavement or human traffic within their operations or supply chain networks (Doh & Quigley, 2014). The shared responsibility of the leaders has also been displayed through their efforts in making a positive difference in the lives of the ones with whom they have been working to show their responsible leadership.

According to Xu, & Saxton (2019), stakeholder engagement framework acts as a responsible leadership aspect that needs to create sustainable results based on which an organization can progress, and this happens to be an important aspect from a stakeholder’s viewpoint. In terms of working for online capital investment is concerned, stakeholder engagement would be working positively, as it can facilitate responsible leadership discharging their roles with full responsibility. Cotton On group has done enough in order to bring in sustainability within in its organizational practices, but somehow they failed to make a full disclosure about the sustainable policies they have been following in order to respect the viewpoints of the stakeholders towards being a sustainable organization. The transparency within the organizational practices is about sharing responsibilities and being more concerned about the organization (, 2020c).The Company has not been transparent about their sustainable practices, as they have not released much about their sustainable practices and this has raised a concern about the existence of stakeholder engagement issues within the organization and whether responsible leadership has worked on it, as they wanted to achieve.


Being Ethical Is Not the End

The Cotton-on group has been working in association with its employees and stakeholders, and everyone has been playing their role. The organization has been doing a lot on the ethical issues like modern slavery. However, the organization has not been so much transparent as it should be in order to be more responsible. The responsible leadership of the company has somehow done not showed great initiatives in disclosing the details about the sustainable measures that has been practiced within the organization. The recommendation to the leadership would be to be more transparent and liable to disclose the sustainable practices they had been practicing within the organization. In this context, stakeholder engagement would be ethically applicable for the firm to work positively on shared leadership (Marques et al., 2018).The leadership of the company would need to have the intellect as well as the insight, and need to work continuously to improve their approach towards being more responsible.

In this way, the leadership would be able to take more critical decisions that would help the company to progress and achieve more success in the future (Zhao & Zhou, 2019). The leadership would need to develop analytical skills that would help them to analyze the situations that come up before the company and before taking any decision they would discuss with other key members of the organization, in order to display the aspect of shared responsibility among the leadership.

Being More Socially Active

The recommendation to the leadership in order to be more responsible would be to concentrate on expanding their business accordingly in order to make the company a global brand and enhance the brand value. The company has moved away from its standalone flagship stores for each brand towards adopting more departments like megastores to showcase its entire range of products. The recommendation to the leadership of the company here would be to concentrate more on the online sale of their products in order to reach more potential customers across the world. Moreover, more customers would be able to know about the company through online platforms, who are still unaware of the brand.

The digital marketing strategies would need to develop by the leadership of the company which would be able to promote the company on a global scale and increase its sales, which in turn would help to generate more revenue for the company (Shi & Ye, 2016). The leadership would be recommended to concentrate on marketing on social media platforms in order to reach out to more number of customers and the leaders of the company would also be able to interact with them. The leadership in this way would be able to understand the expectations of the customers from the company and would be also to receive their opinions and suggestions based on which they would be able to work and help the company to grow further (Castro-González et al. 2019). In this way, the leadership would be to show their responsibility for the company.

Being More Sustainable

The company has been working on sustainable development and that has been received quite positively by the stakeholders. The recommendation here would be to the leadership of the company would be to extend the sustainable measures into their supply chain in order to reduce waste generation and reduce energy consumption. In this way, the leadership would be to display their responsibility towards the environment (Borova &Pohorielova, 2019). The leadership would be more responsible if they are able to extend their sustainable practices to the core business and change the sustainable measures more often according to the changing dimensions of sustainability, and help to share the values throughout the organization. The leader of the organization needs to make sure in order to achieve more gains they should not be employing unsustainable methods to manufacture cheaper products that can severely impact the environment and the community.


The report evaluates how responsible leadership in an organization is not only about being responsible for the organization, but also being responsible for the community. Responsible leadership qualities develop with the concept of shared leadership which is more about sharing the values and beliefs which can prove to be beneficial for the organization. The responsible leadership qualities help the leaders of an organization to work in a coordinated environment in order to achieve the short-term as well as the long-term goals for the organization. The leaders in an organization are the ones who apart from leading others in an organization, also have the responsibilities of taking crucial decisions that can lead the organization to achieve its objectives. In this report, it has been seen that how the responsible leadership has played an active role in coordinating with the key stakeholders of the organization, to lead the company towards success and help it to become one of the well-known brands in Australia.

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Moreover, the leadership of the company has been showing its concern towards the environment and the community by adopting sustainable methods. The company has also taken great initiatives in putting an end to the practices of modern slavery within their organization as well as their supply chains, which displays the responsible leadership of the organization. The company however failed to maintain their transparency in disclosing the sustainable practices, which has put the responsible leadership of the organization under doubt. In the end some practical recommendations are provided to the leaders of the company that would help the responsible leadership practices be extended at all levels of the organization.


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