On 23 July 2015, Social Outcomes released the report, Shared Value in Australia. The report looks at how companies in Australia and globally, are seizing the opportunity of shared value creation – growing their businesses, markets, and revenue streams, through innovations that reduce social and environmental problems.
Business is rapidly changing, fuelled by increased transparency, digital innovation, consumer engagement, finite resources and supply chains, and dynamic demographics and workforces. Traditional models that relied solely on public funding and services to address social and environmental needs, are clearly waning.
Our societal challenges are not disappearing, and yet government’s ability to fund resolutions is diminishing. Against this backdrop, shared value has emerged as one tool in the toolbox of non-traditional partnerships between business, government, and civil society – that we might deploy towards social impact and sustainable business.
Shared value creation is not another name for corporate social responsibility (CSR). While some overlap exists, the clear distinction between the two is that shared value programs emerge from core business operations and strategy, whereas CSR is typically an ‘add-on’ feature, originally developed for public relations purposes. In some ways, shared value represents a return to the original purpose of business – to serve a community’s needs. Some might go as far as to say it reflects an Adam Smith ‘invisible hand of the market’ type approach to resolving social issues. In other ways, shared value creation requires new, novel, and innovative approaches to business.
By their very nature, programs that approach our environmental and societal issues as opportunities for impact, are challenging, complex, and messy. As the cases throughout this report demonstrate, their successful implementation will require new skillsets, unique combinations of existing skillsets, passion, commitment, and perhaps above all else, a driving sense of creativity and innovation. The most successful shared value initiatives come from companies who are never satisfied; who are constantly driving themselves, their partners, and their teams – to innovate, iterate, and improve.
This report highlights leading case studies from Australia, and around the world, to demonstrate what works, and why. We are heavy on global examples of shared value for one simple reason: inspiration. We believe that seeing live examples of shared value creation, is the most effective way to envision the breadth and depth of what can be achieved. This report is also an exploration of the state of shared value in Australia, why the practice is expected to grow in the country, and what will drive that development. As the case studies attest, shared value creation is sector and industry agnostic. Pioneers from across broad industry sectors in the country, including financial services, professional services, extractives, and consumer goods, are exploring how they can turn social and environmental challenges into strategic business opportunities.
Research for this report draws on dozens of interviews and discussions with stakeholders in Australia and abroad, as well as analysis of many more case studies in shared value. It is by no means a comprehensive assessment of all the activity underway, and there are hundreds of terrific examples we sadly could not include. We have tried to select a variety of cases which demonstrate both the enormous social impact that shared value programs can create, as well as the diversity and creativity in design of those projects.
Download full report here