Chris Halburd, a Solicitor at Skinner & Associates writes how various individuals and groups in Albury-Wodonga, on the banks of the Murray River, have been exploring how business acting as business could also provide benefits for the local region more broadly than by simply employing staff and making charitable donations. Last month a forum held in Wodonga on shared value bought business operators together to think outside the square to solve social problems in the community
Various individuals and groups in Albury-Wodonga, on the banks of the Murray River, have been exploring how business acting as business could also provide benefits for the local region more broadly than by simply employing staff and making charitable donations. There are now three certified B Corps and there has been discussion of the philosophy of conscious business. One theme that seems to have struck a chord is the notion of creating shared value. Perhaps this is because shared value takes the very pragmatic approach that the business creating the value must also benefit otherwise the exercise is not sustainable.
Another attractive aspect may be that business can engage in stand-alone shared value projects without committing to wholesale change. For example local firms Skinner & Associates Solicitors, Freedom Accounting and Freedom Financial have decided to collaborate to undertake a shared value project developed around the idea of empowering women who are in abusive or oppressive relationships. They are not doing this as a charitable project but rather one that will strengthen their firms at the same time as helping vulnerable members of our community and, in a small way, starting to address the economic impact of domestic violence which costs the Australian economy in the order of $21B a year. The firms hope that this project will provide a process model to encourage other local businesses to take on shared value projects.
The notion of a cluster of businesses creating shared value in a region is a powerful one and has enjoyed the support of the Wodonga Chamber of Commerce from the outset but it really gained traction after Regional Development Australia Murray provided an institutional home for shared value locally and worked with Phil Preston and our local newspaper to raise awareness. Going forward it is hoped that the two local universities, Charles Sturt and La Trobe, the TAFEs in Albury and Wodonga along with the councils on both sides of the border will provide support and encouragement to local businesses wanting to create shared value for themselves and the region.
Read more here about the recent shared value forum held in Wodonga in October