With the 2019 federal election in Australia fast approaching, the Shared Value Project (SVP) is imploring the next government to strengthen ties with the private sector in order to address the most pressing and entrenched social issues facing society.
With major parties promising both economic growth and major advancements in social issues, they need to consider whether government alone can achieve this massive ambition. The opportunities for government to unlock the immense resources of the private sector are endless, and we are calling on the next government to consider how social issues can be solved via cross-sector partnerships and investing in business strategies that solve social issues profitably.
This is an opportunity for the nation to not only build the Australian economy, but also take major strides in tackling issues such as climate change, homelessness, human health and more. With trust in government declining, the public are turning to business to take a stand – in fact they’re demanding it, with 73 per cent believing that a company can both increase profits and serve the community according to the Edelman Trust Barometer.
With profitability and social issues at stake, now is the time to act. SVP has identified a number of opportunities for government to further engage the private sector and enable Australia to strengthen its position as the ‘shared value nation.’
Prioritise tri-sector partnerships
By leveraging the influence, know-how and resources of government, business and community organisations, we can address social issues in a more holistic way. YuMi Tourism Partners, a cross-sector partnership between Carnival Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and The Difference Incubator, is a powerful example of what can be achieved through true collaboration.
Invest in innovation
Given innovation underpins shared value success, government needs to provide better support and funding to accelerate and incubate the development of innovative solutions by Australian business to address emerging social issues. A fund for shared value projects; similar to that of the $7 million Sector Readiness Fund, which provides support for impact businesses to become investment ready, could create major economic and social impact.
Develop skills, knowledge and capacity for social impact
Government must also invest in empowering the next generation to drive shared value and other social impact strategies. And with millennials craving a wider purpose, it has never been a more important time to re-focus Australia’s education system around the power of business as a change agent.
Centre for Social Impact’s Graduate Certificate in Social Impact is a fantastic example of a program designed to enhance the skills of established and emerging leaders to achieve social change. SVP member Swinburne Engineering Practice Academy is also a leading example of an education practice that focuses on social impact through inspired engineering.
Broaden the scope of business involvement in policy change
From tackling major public health issues, to providing greater support for our Asia Pacific neighbours, there are countless policy areas within government that can benefit from engaging the business community in shared value activities. DFAT’s flagship private sector engagement program, the Business Partnerships Platform (BPP), is a leading example of how government can engage corporations in its development agenda, whilst using public resources more effectively and efficiently.
Realise the power of social procurement
As Australia’s biggest spender across a range of services, there is an opportunity for government to tap into its buying power to deliver social, economic and environmental outcomes. The Victorian Government has established Australia’s first Social Procurement Framework, which; if adopted federally, is a highly effective way for the public sector to support businesses that are solving social issues profitably.
The SVP looks forward to continuing to convene the cross-sector shared value discussion with the new government, enabling Australia to maximise its economic growth and social impact.