Creating Shared Value: Practical Lessons for the Future
11 December 2013 at 10:06 am
Creating Shared Value (CSV) provides a new platform to have leadership conversations about the role of business in resolving societal challenges, writes Amanda Keogh, the Head of Sustainability for Fuji Xerox in the Asia Pacific region.
Creating Shared Value (CSV) seems to have captured the imagination of sustainability practitioners, consultants and the c-suite alike. In fact, some say this is a reflection of its key benefits to the broader sustainability agenda from an enterprise perspective – it gives us a new platform to have leadership conversations about the role of business in resolving societal challenges.
Michael Porter has defined CSV as “when a business tackles a social problem or social need with a business model – with the framework that they can make a profit.” Shared value means creating economic value while meeting societal needs at the same time.
It sounds compelling in theory, but how is it applied in practice? In developed economies, practical models demonstrating the application and scalability of CSV remain elusive. The gap is being filled with some interesting experiments in CSV, from which we can all learn.
Case study: ‘Transitioning to Work’ pilot
Fuji Xerox Australia attempted to identify and implement a CSV pilot in 2013 that would allow us to explore the concept and raise its visibility within the business. We ran a workshop to map our opportunities and identified some existing work with our long term community partner United Way Australia and a small number of Principals from disadvantaged schools. Together, we had formed an ‘Income Coalition’ to explore the reasons for students to leave school early, and what could be done to address that at a micro level with some of the schools involved. Four levers were identified: literacy, wellbeing, teacher acumen, and connections to work. With the latter, we felt we had the opportunity to make a contribution that would also create value for our business.
Fuji Xerox Australia has a significant logistics operation responsible for the warehousing and distribution of its equipment, parts and consumables to customers around the country. The logistics industry has had challenges in workforce development and needed to establish a stream of young, skilled employees to enable its growth. Through the work of the Income Coalition, we identified a way to address that need by providing pathways for students from disadvantaged school to a career in the logistics industry.
Our employees and logistics suppliers got on board with the program, and together we developed an initiative that was piloted with over 100 South Sydney High students. The program involved a ‘speed careering’ day and ‘business blackboards’ that helped students gain a deeper understanding of the logistics industry and what career options were available. As a result, three students from South Sydney High became apprentices with our logistics supplier DB Schenker.
We had three key learnings from this pilot:
Scale remains a challenge – in 2014 we plan to involve an industry association so that our early, modest success and the models developed can be more broadly leveraged;
The value created for Fuji Xerox Australia was less tangible than we would aspire to – although there were benefits to supplier relations and workforce development, going forward we will aim for greater leverage of our solutions and services;
Building understanding of our business offerings with both our current and potential community partners will help to reveal CSV opportunities that are more aligned with our core assets and expertise, and more likely to gain traction and scale.
We will apply these lessons in our 2014 plans and continue to explore CSV pilots with our community partners and our business executives. As the year unfolds, I will be watching with interest the progress of one particular CSV tension – which is the distaste some have for the idea that corporations can (and arguably should) generate profits from the resolution of societal challenges to which they turn their attention.
Porter has argued that the question of intention is key to CSV; our intention starting out should be to generate profit through the resolution of societal challenges and that is what makes the outcomes of ‘true CSV’ scale and stand out in stark contrast to many of the re-badged CSR initiatives masquerading as CSV. So it’s critical that business leaders get comfortable with that notion if the full force of corporate focus is to be brought to bear on these challenges. It will be an interesting year for CSV.
About the author: Amanda Keogh is the Head of Sustainability for Fuji Xerox in the Asia Pacific region and Australia. She presented at the Corporate Community Impact in Asia Summit about Fuji Xerox’s experiences with shared value and was recently appointed to the Global Reporting Initiative Stakeholder Council representing the business constituency for Australasia.