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Highlights from the 2015 Shared Value Forum

April 17, 2015

Strategy, collaboration and government were all emphasised as being critical to the future development of shared value in Australia – and around the world – at the 2015 Shared Value Forum.

These points were raised by a group of national and international speakers including Mark Kramer at the full day forum, which provided tools for leaders and practitioners to act on shared value within their organisations, and clearly defined the state of shared value in Australia.

Proudly sponsored by NAB, the forum attracted more than 130 leaders from corporate, consulting, and community organisations who are now better equipped to help their organisations act, measure and grow through shared value, and help advance the movement within Australia.

The forum also included a live conversation hosted by our media partner ABC News with Virginia Trioli helping to bring shared value to a broader national audiences via their television and online channels.

Thank you to our speakers, contributors, and attendees who made the forum such a dynamic and collaborative event. We look forward to continuing to engage you in the shared value movement in Australia, and future Shared Value Project activities including the upcoming ‘State of Shared Value in Australia’ survey.

Stay tuned for more information on the 2016 Shared Value Forum.


Shared value at its core is about business strategy: Mark Kramer

Mark Kramer kicked off the 2015 Shared Value Forum by highlighting how the momentum around the shared value movement is continuing to build globally, with new shared value hubs in development in countries such as India. Mark emphasised the opportunities of business engaging with society, “If you can find the business model to address the social problem, then it scales itself. You have access to the resources of business, and access to capital markets. You have a sustainable solution that can really operate and make a difference”.

Mark also noted that as the movement has progressed and practitioners share their initiatives with him, “80 per cent of the time, what [people are] describing to me, is philanthropy, not shared value.. and another third of the time, it’s about corporate social responsibility, not shared value. It has also been broadened to cover so many corporate activities that really aren’t shared value.”

Kramer emphasised, “At its core, shared value is about business strategy. It’s not another name for Corporate Social Responsibility, it’s not another name for corporate philanthropy. The purpose of a strategy in business is to create a superior economic return by creating a sustainable competitive advantage”


The 5 Levels of shared value

A key takeaway was Mark’s five levels of shared value, which sees a company through its engagement with shared value, to identify where they are at and where to next. What stage is your company at?

  • Aspiration – identifying the opportunity to create shared value and making a commitment to take it on.
  • Understanding – building understanding of the idea internally and potential benefits for the company and society.
  • Activities – strategising and implementing the changes through business operations
  • Journey – seeing through the shared value strategy and adapted business operations, making a difference with benefits to the business and society.
  • Results – measuring the social and economic impact of your shared value journey.

Each of these areas were covered throughout the forum with lively discussion and debate from our speakers, and insights and practicalities delivered from our workshop facilitators so that attendees could go back to their companies and take shared value on.


Our favourite quotes and key discussions

Translating shared value into society and business success

Peter Yates AM, Chair of the Shared Value Project, highlighted our ambitions to help business and society to become more connected, using the analogy of Japanese characters and how the character for business is the same for society.

The role of government in shared value

A question consistently raised throughout the day was – what is the role of government? With various perspectives discussed, including that there is a tremendous opportunity for government to play a role in several ways, as Mark Kramer explained, “first, to the extent that business can come in and address problems and meet social needs in ways that would otherwise cost the government money, there is a strong case to be made for a subsidy or tax holiday, to encourage businesses to move in this direction”. Sasha Courville from NAB highlighted the opportunity for corporates and governments to work together, particularly around opportunities with data derived from corporate initiatives. To bring in the government’s perspective, Rebecca Bryant from DFAT highlighted the power the government can bring from a brand power and endorsement perspective. Whilst others such as Mike Hirst, Managing Director of Bendigo & Adelaide Bank stated that particularly in the banking industry, “the amount of regulation that has come in … really does hold business and my industry [back] from being able to achieve the things they need to achieve. There needs to be a mature discussion around how we can better operate around things like social value”.

Cross dressers and teabags

“Leadership is like a teabag, you don’t know how strong it is until it’s in hot water”, said Dame Julia Cleverdon, who gave a lively and unique perspective from the United Kingdom, and had plentiful stories on how she has been drawing on her experience and passion for business to connect companies with society and solve social problems in her work with the Prince’s Charities and Business in the Community.

“We need to be cross dressers”, said Dame Julia Cleverdon, “Problems will not be solved by one sector, we need collaboration”. A point that was repeated consistently throughout the day, and the potential for cross-sector partnerships, and partnerships between corporate companies and not-for-profits which can be a way to build momentum in solving social issues expressed Peter Burns, CEO of YMCA Victoria.


Business can’t succeed in a failing society

All of your customers are in the community, as speakers throughout the day reiterated – “Business can’t succeed in a failing society” said Mark Kramer, similarly Mike Hirst stated, “You can’t run a business in a poor community”, and, “Prosperous high streets require prosperous backstreets” said Dame Julia Cleverdon.

Shared value has the ability to recruit younger generations who want to do good and have purpose in their work, but also can be mechanism to address other generational issues such as aging populations.

Leadership and shared value

Shared value initiatives and engagement will remain isolated within companies if the CEO and leadership team isn’t behind it, expressed Mark Kramer, which was echoed throughout the ‘Shared Value Conversation’ panel, moderated by Virginia Trioli. Leaders need to believe in the shared value idea and connect with the impact their business is having on society.

Acting on shared value

The ‘how-to’ workshops provided insights on the different aspects of implementing shared value. Melinda Leth from EY such as evolving organisations’ functions, roles, and systems to capitalise on shared value opportunities. Rhod Ellis-Jones highlighted the questions to ask and the most effective approach to take in developing a business case, business strategy or project that creates shared value Rhode Ellis-Jones. Jo Osorio from Edelman shared case studies on how companies can go about branding and social purpose, where she highlighted how companies can often focus too much on the emotion in their branding and lose track of their company’s purpose. From a community engagement and partnership level, Phil Preston from the Performing with Purpose Network described how if companies put stakeholders and their issues first then they can work to create real change and business effectiveness.

Measuring shared value

Measurement continues to be the holy grail of shared value. Experts Mark Kramer, Les Hems from EY, and Simon Faivel from Social Ventures Australia shared their insights and helped attendees to engage with one another on their own experiences and challenges. Mark Kramer emphasised how measurement changes behaviour with examples such as – what if we measured healthy behaviours rather than ill health? Whilst Simon Faivel put measurement into five potential steps: 1. Define boundaries, 2. Understand change, 3. Measure, 4. Value, 5. Interpret how to use.

What does the future of shared value look like?

Our cross-sector panel shared their perspectives on the potential for shared value, from the impact the government can have to assist companies and how shared value can bring about a win for the community and for the government, to the importance of building internal relations, and functions around shared value which can ultimately boost morale. For example, Sarah Cobourn from Hitachi shared how all 320,000 Hitachi employees each now have shared value as a KPI, and as Chris Newlan form Suncorp Group explained, when you do something like shared value people internally get behind it.

Ben Peacock from Republic of Everyone highlighted a though provoking point as he moderated the final panel – why are we afraid of the stigma of making a profit from doing good, isn’t this better than making a profit from doing something bad? We will be taking this perspective into account in our future communication and advocacy of the shared value idea, to help raise awareness of the potential of doing well by doing good.

Shared value in practice

One of the best ways is to learn is by example, which a selection of Shared Value Project members provided through the ‘Storytellers’ sessions, sharing their successes from their engagement with shared value implementation and initiatives. These included NAB Care, IAG’s company wide shared value strategy, Hitachi’s ‘Three-Way Shared Value Partnership to Train the Builders of Tomorrow’, Republic of Everyone’s ‘202020 Vision’ project, Bendigo & Adelaide Bank’s Community Bank model, AIA Australia’s ‘AIA Vitality’ program, and Suncorp Group’s ‘AAMI Skilled Driver’s Course’.