In this month’s member interview series we feature Libby Davidson, Group General Counsel, External Relations Director & Sustainability Director at Lion, a new member of the Shared Value Project. Libby shares her experience with shared value and the role she plays in leading a shared value culture internally through the organisation’s core purpose of enriching our world every day by championing sociability and helping people to live well.
What does shared value mean to you?
Lion’s Core Purpose, first articulated almost 15 years ago, is “to enrich our world every day by championing sociability and helping people to live well”.
Our Core Purpose is at the heart of everything we do, and is fundamental to every decision we make. Over the years, this Core Purpose has embedded shared value thinking at Lion and forced us to think about what we do not just in financial terms, but also in terms of our impact on society and our communities.
We aim to make a positive social contribution because it’s the right thing to do and because it will enable Lion to execute its strategy with the support of the community. It will grow people and stakeholder engagement, improve trust in our brands and also, crucially, deliver new avenues for growth.
What led you individually to the shared value idea? How did you come across it?
When I joined the business 10 years ago Lion was already effectively applying shared value thinking in practice, through our Core Purpose, values and behaviours. Our commitment to sociability drove decisions to innovate in mid and low strength beers, to withdraw from RTDs and drinks combining alcohol with energy ingredients and to lead industry initiatives in pregnancy labelling and responsible drinking campaigns.
More recently, as we have become aware of the shared value movement, we’ve recognised that a shared value philosophy aligns strongly with Lion’s approach to doing business and we have started more explicitly adopting shared value language and thinking in our Sustainability strategies.
What does shared value success look like at Lion and where are you at on the journey?
We are still on the journey and have so much to learn but we do have a few interesting case studies.
In 2014, we launched The Goodness Project – a major business initiative focused on delivering better nutritional outcomes for Australia.
We believe the inherent goodness of our portfolio of dairy and drinks products can play a role in improving the wellbeing of Australians. So we’re taking a leadership position by improving the nutritional profile of our dairy and drinks products and celebrating their natural goodness. Almost everything we make comes from Australian farms, and is aligned to consumers’ desire to eat better quality, less processed and more wholesome food.
Another program which is gaining traction involves offering Lion dairy farmers who supply our business in South East Queensland and South Australia the opportunity to access brewers’ grain from our XXXX and West End Breweries.
Brewers’ grain is a high quality stockfeed that can help to increase milk output, enhance fat and protein composition, and improve farm productivity.
We are pricing the grain at a discount to prevailing market rates, knowing that stockfeed is a major expense that farmers must work hard to manage, while at the same time recovering value for a brewing waste product.
We hope this will provide an additional incentive for good farmers to stay with Lion and forms part of an effort to build long-term relationships beyond simply price and terms.
Longer term, we are also investigating the viability of offering farmers access to other stockfeeds, for example citrus rinds, soy hulls and okara, which are by-products of Lion’s juice and soy businesses.
In New Zealand we launched the Enlighten program in 2015, designed to educate New Zealanders about drinking responsibly. As part of this initiative we introduced a bespoke menu of lower strength products and our goal is to help 300 customers create an Enlighten menu of their own by the end of 2016.
You can learn more in our latest sustainability report at www.lionco.com.au/sustainability
What is your role individually within Lion to support the company along its shared value journey?
As the Sustainability Director, I help to drive Lion’s agenda forward in this space. However, while leadership sets the tone, we need to empower every one of us to make decisions that create value for society and the environment in addition to financial value. We need to drive this through the organisation and celebrate the great stories where we achieve true shared value outcomes.
How has practicing shared value helped you individually in your role, department, or career more generally?
While I think it’s very important that we don’t lose sight of traditional philanthropy and CSR – and these certainly have a place in Lion’s sustainability approach – shared value is helpful in gaining cut through internally and ensuring sustainability is seen as integral to business strategies.
The shared value concepts really resonate with our business, because they are framed in positive language, rather than forcing a binary choice between profit and social outcomes. While traditional sustainability has focused on reducing harm and protecting your licence to operate, shared value talks a language of innovation and commercial opportunity, the ideal win-win where we can tick the box on both economic value and social value.
This has helped us generate far greater interest and engagement around our Nutrition, Environment and Community strategies within Lion.
What do you think are some pertinent issues in Australia that could be solved through creating shared value?
There are really too many to count and they are so often sector-specific. For Lion, our shared value opportunities include delivering better nutritional outcomes; driving responsible consumption of our food, beverage and alcohol products; proactively reducing our environmental footprint and finding ways to build our community relationships.
But what’s important is the role of business in creating shared value outcomes is recognised. Governments cannot solve all of the world’s problems on their own.
Of the 100 largest economies in the world, 51 are now global corporations; only 49 are countries. So companies have the economic strength to drive programs and initiatives which help deliver significant community outcomes whilst also increasing their company’s bottom line at the same time. It’s a win, win.