Stay up to date with all the latest from Shared Value Project by signing up to our eNewsletter

Shared value and Occupy Wall St

October 21, 2011

The following article ran in The Australian on October 18. It was penned by Peter Shergold, former Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and now Macquarie Group Foundation Professor at the Centre for Social Impact. The shared value model can act as the framework to solve the many social issues capitalism faces. The key is to start by focusing on each problem individually in order to create a more equitable society overall.

Business must engage in battle for hearts and minds

THE American media, somewhat belatedly, is now asking the question: how big can the Occupy Wall Street campaign become?

What began as a relatively small group of protesters in New York’s Lower Manhattan a month ago has spread to about 150 cities in the US. As unionists, environmentalists and students join the so-called “leaderless movement”, the broad-based anti-corporatist sentiment that has fuelled the agitation seems to be growing. Numbers are swelling. Politicians are positioning.

Amped Status, which claims responsibility for the birth of the 99% Movement sees the protest’s origins in growing inequalities of wealth and power perpetuated by the “neo-liberal economic domination” of corporate America.

I’m not persuaded all of the protesters, or their many sympathisers, would subscribe to such an ideological presentation of their beliefs. Nor is it clear that the increasing range of grievances being brought to the protests can sustain collective cohesion among the disparate groups involved in “direct and transparent participatory democracy”.

The future of the protests is uncertain. The increased organisation of spontaneity may either undermine the movement’s appeal or else less likely mould it into a more enduring form of political protest.

What is certain is that the concerns that underlie the street occupations are real. The diversity of opinions, and the lack of political sophistication with which they are often expressed, should not lull observers into the complacent belief that the protest is just the latest day out for the usual anti-globalisation suspects.

Something serious is going on. It was the Harvard Business Review, no less, that earlier this year published an article premised on the prescient view that the “capitalist system is under siege”. The article, by Michael Porter and Mark Kramer on Creating Shared Value, pointed to the fact companies were “widely perceived to be prospering at the expense of the broader community”. The legitimacy of corporate activity and trust in business is falling.

Read full article at The Australian.