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Launching the Shared Value Initiative: A Community for Practitioners

In partnership with 12 leading shared value companies (Nestlé, Verizon, Arauco, Intel, InterContinental Hotels Group, BD, The Coca-Cola Company, Eli Lilly, HP, Medtronic, Novartis, and Western Union) and the Rockefeller Foundation, FSG is excited to announce the launch of the Shared Value Initiative at this year’s Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting. The Shared Value Initiative will become a community of practice for the ecosystem of stakeholders committed to pursuing and implementing shared value strategies.

For many of our partners and FSG, this moment is the culmination of a long shared value journey that predates the January 2011 publication of Professor Michael E. Porter and Mark Kramer’s Harvard Business Review article, Creating Shared Value. For instance, Nestlé has been taking a shared value approach in the Moga milk district of India since the 1960’s. And, FSG has been working with corporate clients across a range of business in society issues since our founding in the late 1990’s.

These efforts have led practitioners in the same direction and to similar conclusions – that businesses acting as businesses can be powerful drivers of social change. And, that the shared value concept has provided a clear framing for how companies can effectively identify and address opportunities at the intersection of their business and society that has resonated with companies, civil society and governments-alike.

The Shared Value Initiative will become a home for this ecosystem of committed stakeholders. Ultimately to be found at sharedvalue.org, the Initiative will have several defining principles:
 

  • The shared value community will be driven by the community. Guided by a Leadership Council comprised of Nestlé, Rockefeller and Verizon, FSG will provide Initiative management and continue to develop cornerstone research on shared value. But, we believe that the communities’ priorities and experience will be the ultimate drivers in determining how the practice of shared value grows and deepens.

  • In that vein, FSG will not be the sole creator or publisher of shared value research and thinking through sharedvalue.org. The Initiative will become a place in which academics, companies of all sizes, NGOs, governments and consultants will be encouraged to publish their own shared value research, case studies and experiences.

  • The community will be built in a way that recognizes and supports complementary resources that have already been developed by others. An excellent source of business-in-society business school materials, for instance, already exists at caseplace.org developed by the Aspen Institute. We will find helpful ways to align with these efforts identifying how they can advance the understanding of shared value.

  • We will build a network of affiliated professional services firms offering shared value services teaching the shared value strategy methodology to others and learning from others’ experiences. By building relationships with strategy consulting firms like Parity CB in Bolivia, for instance, we will help extend the reach and deployment of shared value strategies to practitioners who know the defining characteristics of the places in which they work and who can effectively tailor solutions to local conditions.

  • We will open the sharedvalue.org doors to business-in-society thought leaders aligned with shared value principles – how businesses can simultaneously create value for the business and society. Base of the Pyramid practitioners come to mind as an example. We believe that the way to encourage further adoption of shared value thinking is to build bridges to complementary trains of research and scholarship rather than argue points of definitional disagreement.

The Shared Value Initiative formalizes what has been an exciting time for the companies’ leading the way and for FSG – we look forward to having a home in which to grow the excitement for this rapidly evolving and emerging field of practice.

Justin Bakule

Former Executive Director, Shared Value Initiative