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The State of Shared Value in Australia

8 April 2015 at 12:44 pm
Lina Caneva
Shared Value is gaining global momentum and rapidly being adopted by leading Australian businesses writes Helen Steel, Executive Director, The Shared Value Project.

Lina Caneva | 8 April 2015 at 12:44 pm


The State of Shared Value in Australia
8 April 2015 at 12:44 pm

Shared Value is gaining global momentum and rapidly being adopted by leading Australian businesses writes Helen Steel, Executive Director, The Shared Value Project.

According to  Peter Yates AM, Chair of the Shared Value Project, and Deputy Chairman of the Myer Family Investments:“Australian companies are embracing the shared value approach and recognising that achieving both social impact and business returns are not mutually exclusive”.

In a time where business’ engagement with society can be codified into a vast array of movements and strategies – what makes shared value different? And why is it gaining global momentum and rapidly being adopted by leading Australian businesses?

At the Shared Value Project we have found that when we explain the concept of shared value, from corporate leaders to members of the general public, the consistent feedback we hear is, “that makes sense”.

As Paul Bulcke, CEO of Nestlé, stated recently at the 2015 World Economic Forum in Davos, “shared value is going back to the fundamental role of economic activity”, creating value for all stakeholders – business at it’s best.

Shared value places social problems at the core of business objectives. The simplicity of the concept, and ability to reference back to Michael Porter and Mark Kramer’s ‘Creating Shared Value’ article (Harvard Business Review, 2011), are making it applicable and a powerful way forward in which Australian business can work with society and be a part of the new social agenda.

From adoption to implementation: where is shared value in Australia?

The take up and successful adoption of shared value in Australia can be reflected in the progress the Shared Value Project has seen since its inception as a forum in 2011, bringing leaders together to discuss ‘what is shared value?’, to the rapid uptake by companies and our formal establishment in 2014 as the peak practice body for shared value in Australia, and regional partner of the Shared Value Initiative.

It’s about innovation. With Australia’s smaller population and culture of early adopters, Australian companies have been able to set themselves apart by implementing a range of successful initiatives. Whether it be introducing a new product or service such as AIA Australia’s AIA Vitality program, redefining productivity in the supply chain with NAB’s NAB Care, or improving conditions and processes in the geographical regions in which a business operates such as with Bendigo Bank’s Community Bank.

The emergence of local examples, and being able to clearly articulate these case studies and the benefits to business and society is essential to building momentum of the shared value movement.

Where is shared value going? What the journey looks like.

Late last year in one of our e-newsletters I highlighted a question posed to Mark Kramer, “will shared value disappear?” Mark’s ultimate goal is for the term to become completely integrated into processes and decision making – hence “disappearing”. This made us pause and reflect on the objectives for the development of shared value in Australia, and for the Shared Value Project. Ultimately it is our objective as an organisation to become obsolete and for shared value to become simply the way of doing business.

So what does this journey look like? At our most recent ‘Insight’ networking event, David Harrington, Group General Manager of Strategy at IAG, highlighted an important point, that competing companies can only benefit from working together on a shared value journey, and that the more people doing good for the community, the better the community. The journey heads toward companies within all industries adopting shared value, to ultimately improve the conditions for business in society in Australia.

Of course this will only occur once key challenges and obstacles are overcome.

On the global agenda is measurement, and the tools needed to measure both the social and business benefits in order to present the outcomes to key stakeholders and shareholders. In development is new research that will help provide key findings and recommendations on the implementation of shared value practices. The education sector is starting to incorporate shared value into business curriculum for future generations. Not for Profits also play a vital role in raising awareness of social causes and solving societal issues, but how will this role change and what are the new opportunities through corporate shared value partnerships?

Get involved.

Shared value is quickly taking hold in Australia. Australia’s shared value community is positioned to act, measure, and grow.

For information on the the upcoming 2015 Shared Value Forum to be held Tuesday 14 April visit

Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

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