Following the 2017 Shared Value Leadership Summit, our Australian and Hong Kong delegation participated in a Learning Tour to provide an opportunity for Shared Value Project members to deepen their understanding of shared value with meetings and engagements with U.S based organisations and stakeholders who are actively engaging in shared value and innovative responsible business practices.
Participants on the tour included the Shared Value Project Directors from Australia and Hong Kong, and representatives from the Shared Value Project’s member companies including AIA Group, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, IAG, and NAB.
The tour met with GE, IBM, Closed Loop Partners, and the Vitality Institute, and provided an opportunity to meet directly with local and global organisations, build international networks, and gain insights and lessons learnt in order to inform activity back in Australasia.
The Shared Value Project recognises the tremendous value in bringing members and partners together to learn from one another and share experiences, and we look forward to creating ore of these opportunities in the future.
At GE we met with Deb Frodl, Global Executive Director of Ecomagination, and Ann Condon, Director of Resource and Environmental Strategies who both help lead ‘Ecomagination’, GE’s growth strategy to enhance resource productivity and reduce environmental impact at a global scale through commercial solutions for their customers and through their own operations.
As a part of this strategy as a digital industrial company, GE are investing in cleaner technology and business innovation, developing solutions to enable economic growth while avoiding emissions and reducing water consumption, committing to reduce the environmental impact in their own operations, and developing strategic partnerships to solve some of the toughest environmental challenges at scale to create a cleaner, faster, smarter tomorrow.
GE have been leading the way for a long time, and with this part of the business recently turning 12, they are able to clearly present results that have positively impacted the business and society at tremendous scale given GE provides one third of the world’s energy. Results include $17 billion of R&D spend for Ecomagination with $232 billion revenue generated, 4 x growth overall for GE, a 12% decrease in emissions, and 17% decrease in freshwater use. Read more here.
The learning tour group at the GE offices in New York City
AT IBM we were excited to visit the home of ‘IBM Watson’, where we met with David Raper, who leads Corporate Citizenship for Asia Pacific and Greater China Group, and Gina Tesla, Director of the Corporate Service Corp program.
We learnt about ‘Corporate Citizenship’ at IBM, and how they are taking a data approach to corporate responsibility to find and create new value in markets through their products and services. Like GE, IBM has tremendous scale, operating in 170 countries and more than 50% of retail transactions go through IBM technology services, therefore they able to make a large impact through their initiatives in areas such as health and education. We also discussed how the advances and commercial applications of ‘IBM Watson’ are changing the healthcare industry, and how globally we are facing historic changes with overwhelming amounts of data, therefore we have to have the systems that can keep up.
We also learnt more about a specific example at IBM, the ‘Corporate Services Corps’ program, where IBMers are sent out on Corporate Service Corps assignments around the world and partner with government, business and civic leaders in emerging markets to address high-priority issues such as education, health and economic development. The premise of the program is to have a triple benefit: communities have their problems solved, IBMers receive leadership training and development, and IBM develops new markets and global leaders.
The learning tour group at IBM Watson in New York City
Closed Loop Partners
Our minds were opened around the possibility for finance and investment in solving a major societal problem during our meeting with Rob Kaplan, Managing Director of the Closed Loop Fund, a social impact fund and first of its kind investment platform dedicated to shifting the flow of materials out of landfills and uncovering economic opportunities within a closed system
Closed Loop Partners recognised that the U.S is spending billions to throw away billions of trash and items for recycling, and therefore set out to solve an economic failure and finance better infrastructure for recycling whilst creating a new market. They ended up leveraging shared value and impact investing to solve a social problem where there was a market failure, recognising that capital was the barrier to address the problem and it needed an approach to investing that would see a return.
Closed Loop Partners are taking a ‘Circular Economy’ approach using resources already available and putting them back into a system – incubating R&D with the Closed Loop Foundation, commercialising with Closed Loop Ventures, and scaling with the Closed Loop Fund, along with partners such as Walmart, Coca Cola, PepsiCo, Johnson and Johnson, Goldman Sachs, Proctor and Gamble, and Unilever.
The Closed Loop Framework
Many common threads were woven together in our meeting with Derek Yach, Chief Health Officer of Vitality Group, and Executive Director of the Vitality Institute – with the ‘Vitality’ program delivered in Asia Pacific region by AIA Group, and Vitality Group as a partner on the ‘Insuring Shared Value’ research with IAG.
As a leader in the business of public health, Derek shared his experiences from his vast career including roles at the World Health Organisation (WHO), PepsiCo, and now Vitality. Derek recognised that the approach of “though shall not” is not an effective solution, we can be more effective with a market approach and utilising behavioural economics for health and prevention, as seen with the the ‘Vitality’ program.
Derek highlighted that health is the key input into sustainable development and health is the best outcome of sustainable development, and if companies don’t look after customers they won’t have customers. He also identified the next set of global health challenges – with cardiovascular conditions going down quickly, others are going up, not the ‘killers’ but conditions around mental health, mobility, dementia, and aging populations which all present a pressing opportunity and need to be prevention.
The learning tour group with Derek Yach from Vitality Group