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BLOG: Unpacking Shared Value in Australia

30 July 2015 at 10:56 am
Lina Caneva
The first major report to assess the state of shared value creation in Australia reveals why pioneering companies see this as a significant opportunity to create products and services that reduce social and environmental problems, writes Sandy Blackburn-Wright from Social Outcomes.

Lina Caneva | 30 July 2015 at 10:56 am


BLOG: Unpacking Shared Value in Australia
30 July 2015 at 10:56 am

The first major report to assess the state of shared value creation in Australia reveals why pioneering companies see this as a significant opportunity to create products and services that reduce social and environmental problems, writes Sandy Blackburn-Wright from Social Outcomes.

Business is rapidly changing, fuelled by increased transparency, digital innovation, consumer engagement, finite resources and supply chains, and dynamic demographics and workforces. Traditional models that relied solely on public funding and services to address social and environmental needs, are clearly waning.

Our societal challenges are not disappearing, and yet Government’s ability to fund resolutions is diminishing. Against this backdrop, shared value has emerged as one tool in the toolbox of non-traditional partnerships between business, government, and civil society – that we might deploy towards social impact and sustainable business.

These are the opening paragraphs to Social Outcomes’ report on Shared Value in Australia, launched on 23 July 2015. The report is the first major report in the country to assess the state of shared value creation, and why pioneering companies in Australia see this as a significant opportunity to grow their business, markets, and revenue streams – through the creation of products and services that reduce social and environmental problems.

The report is also a manual of sorts for Australian businesses who have identified the opportunity of shared value, but aren’t sure where to start, the types of models they can tap into, or the hurdles and obstacles they need to be prepared for.

The launch of the report was accompanied by a short introductory video. NAB was the primary sponsor of the report, and hosted the report launch at their offices in Sydney. The launch included a panel of experts in shared value creation including Helen Steel, Shared Value Project; Sasha Courville, NAB; Sandy Blackburn-Wright, Social Outcomes: and Annette Ruhotas from Lendlease. Lendlease also provided sponsorship for the report.

The following is extracted from the report:

Shared value creation is not another name for corporate social responsibility (CSR). While some overlap exists, the clear distinction between the two is that shared value programs emerge from core business operations and strategy, whereas CSR is typically an “add-on” feature, originally developed for public relations purposes. In some ways, shared value represents a return to the original purpose of business – to serve a community’s needs. Some might go as far as to say it reflects an Adam Smith “invisible hand of the market” type approach to resolving social issues. In other ways, shared value creation requires new, novel, and innovative approaches to business.

By their very nature, programs that approach our environmental and societal issues as opportunities for impact, are challenging, complex, and messy. As the cases throughout the report demonstrate, their successful implementation will require new skillsets, unique combinations of existing skillsets, passion, commitment, and perhaps above all else, a driving sense of creativity and innovation. The most successful shared value initiatives come from companies who are never satisfied; who are constantly driving themselves, their partners, and their teams – to innovate, iterate, and improve.

Shared Value in Australia highlights leading case studies from Australia, and around the world, to demonstrate what works, and why. We are heavy on global examples of shared value for one simple reason: inspiration. We believe that seeing live examples of shared value creation is the most effective way to envision the breadth and depth of what can be achieved. The report is also an exploration of the state of shared value in Australia, why the practice is expected to grow in the country, and what will drive that development. As the case studies attest, shared value creation is sector and industry agnostic. Pioneers from across broad industry sectors in the country, including financial services, professional services, extractives, and consumer goods, are exploring how they can turn social and environmental challenges into strategic business opportunities.

Research for Shared Value in Australia drew on dozens of interviews and discussions with stakeholders in Australia and abroad, as well as analysis of many more case studies in shared value. It is by no means a comprehensive assessment of all the activity underway, and there are hundreds of terrific examples that sadly could not be included. The report tries to highlight a variety of cases which demonstrate both the enormous social impact that shared value programs can create, as well as the diversity and creativity in design of those projects.

Download full report here

About the author: Sandy Blackburn-Wright is the Managing Director of Social Outcomes – a team of experienced practitioners in the design and implementation of programs for social and environmental impact. It develops collaborative partnerships across the business, Government, Not for Profit and philanthropic sectors, to create dynamic and financially sustainable solutions to social issues.  


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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