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Testing the Resources Sector on Shared Value

December 10, 2014

The Shared Value Project recently held a workshop event, ‘Extracting with Purpose’, in Perth on 10th November with the University of Western Australia’s Centre for Social Impact, the Energy and Minerals Institute, and Social Ventures Australia. This event was facilitated to bring together shared value and extractives industry experts to discuss key learnings from the newly released FSG extractives paper ‘Extracting with Purpose’. Liz McGrath from the Energy and Minerals Institute shares some of the key ideas discussed.  This article was originally published via the Energy and Minerals Institute, University of Western Australia.

Resource sector companies can create shared value for the communities in which they operate by engaging with local ventures, community groups and people through business opportunities that directly benefit the community but at the same time add to their own bottom-line.

That was the message from a recent workshop hosted by UWA’s Energy and Minerals Institute (EMI) for UWA’s Centre for Social Impact and the Shared Value Project in Perth.

The workshop, targeted at extractives industry professionals, explored the topic of creating shared value in the oil and gas and mining sectors and in other industry and community settings.

It followed the release of a new FSG report, ‘Extracting with Purpose’ which looks at the potential for energy and minerals companies to ‘give back’ to the communities and environments in which they operate, whilst still remaining competitive.

Inaugural Executive Director of the Shared Value Project, Helen Steel, said the concept of ‘shared value’ is defined as policies and practices that enhance the competitiveness of companies while improving social and environmental conditions in regions where they operate.

“It is a business strategy focused on companies creating measurable economic benefit by identifying and addressing social problems that intersect with their business. To qualify as shared value, there must be an identifiable economic benefit to the company as well as measurable impact on a social or environmental issue,” she said.

Director of the International Mining for Development Centre (IM4DC), Ian Satchwell, said the FSG report reiterates that resource companies operate in some of the most underdeveloped regions on earth with many countries and communities facing significant challenges in health, education, economic development and basic infrastructure.

“This presents an opportunity for social change”, he said at the workshop. “Five of the world’s twenty biggest companies operate in these sectors. While the social imperative is clear, so is the business need to improve interactions with host communities”.

“Shared value establishes a framework for identifying opportunities to address societal issues and deliver real business value but to capture that value the research finds companies in these sectors need to change a number of specific behaviours.”

Extractives Workshop 2Ian Satchwell

These could include things like changing from making one-off, reactive social investments to building a portfolio of strategic programs with a long-term economic development strategy or transforming from trying to address societal issues by going at it alone to building partnerships with government, NGO’s and other companies to help resolve issues.

“We’re eager to collaborate with the Australian oil and gas and mining communities to drive a global conversation around the opportunity for shared value with these sectors,” said Helen Steel.

Director of UWA’s Centre for Social Impact, Winthrop Professor Paul Flatau, said the workshop had provided a first class opportunity for resource professionals as well as community groups to engage with industry experts and academic leaders on a subject that is gaining traction across the globe.

“The resources sector in Western Australia has been at the forefront of strategic corporate philanthropy not only in Australia but globally. Shared value initiatives now provide the opportunity to enlarge community benefit in long-term sustainable way”, he said.


Extractives Workshop 1

Stephanie Cole, Social Ventures Australia; Helen Steel, Shared Value Project; Duncan Peppercorn, Social Ventures Australia; Rebecca Alston, Fortescue Metals Group; Paul Flatau, Centre for Social Impact

Extractives Paper Cover 2