The 7 billionth person to inhabit our increasingly crowded planet is predicted to be born this October 31st, Halloween in the US. Some historians link Halloween’s origins to the Gaelic end-of-harvest festival “Samhain”, which marked the end of the "lighter half" of the year and the beginning of the "darker half”. The darker half – that sounds ominous. Does this forebode that the as yet unborn person will enter our world as it is falling into its “darker half”? And what does this have to do with Creating Shared Value?
Like many of my colleagues here at FSG, I fundamentally believe that corporations have the potential to solve pressing social challenges. The premise of shared value is that the health of a business depends on the health of society, and vice versa. Thus, businesses are both dependent on and responsible for a healthy environment for the next generation. So here are my seven birthday wishes for our soon to be born new co-inhabitant – and a call to action to the corporate sector for making these wishes come true:
- I wish that you never suffer from caloric or micronutrient deficiency – because a company has recognized that producing and selling fortified food is a key business and social opportunity in your community
- I wish that you never face a water shortage, be it for your own sanitation or for agricultural production in your community – because companies have developed breakthrough water filtration and irrigation solutions that create whole new markets for them
- I wish that you receive a good and free education – because the private sector in your community has recognized that it is in its collective best interest to educate its next generation workforce
- I wish that you find a job that allows you to provide for you and your family – because companies have recognized your community as a source of both human capital and customers
- I wish that you have a safe way to build and protect your financial assets – because financial service providers have recognized that you need (and can afford) a savings account and insurance products
- I wish that your first self-owned transportation vehicle will be affordable, 100% powered by renewable energy and recyclable – because a company has recognized that its future growth depends on this kind of technological breakthrough
- I wish that your own children are born in a state of the art clinic – because hospitals, pharmaceutical firms and medical equipment providers have together been able to design a sustainable low-cost, high-quality solution that can be rolled out to thousands of communities
If companies in all industries put on their shared value hats, we can ensure that this newcomer will avoid experiencing a “darker” side of the future.
What birthday wishes do you have for him or her?