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May 19, 2017Published Article

Creating Shared Value - Conference Recap

Shared Value Business Strategies are Unlocking Innovation and Driving Growth
At the 2017 Shared Value Leadership Summit held last week in New York, presenters shared their commitment to integrating positive social and community impact with successful core business strategy. Here are a few highlights.

Shared value strategies are directly influencing the global marketplace
Participants from more than 100 countries joined the conference in person or over the internet. Shared value strategies that are changing global business norms are coming from companies like Enel – an Italian energy company operating in 30 countries that currently sources nearly half of its power from renewable sources, and is committed to being 100 percent carbon neutral by 2050. South African financial services firm Discovery Limited has created Vitality, a line of health insurance, life insurance, and individual financial services that all build in incentives for participant engagement. These products are now available on four continents. Walmart is also working with 250 suppliers around the world to remove one gigaton of greenhouse gas emissions from its supply chain by 2030.

Shared value unlocks innovation and enhances business competiveness
In the words of one presenter, “Shared value is not about how you spend the money you make – it’s about how you make your money.” Enel’s fastest growing division is Green Power, and the company is exploring innovative green energy storage strategies including use of electric cars. The Gap has adopted a workforce training program that focuses on young adults from low and moderate income backgrounds. Three quarters of trainees in their This Way Ahead program received job offers at the end of their internships, and The Gap and other participating brands are reporting rates of retention and employee engagement that are twice those of other new hires.

Leadership Commitment
Leadership commitment is required to overcome challenges to creating shared value at scale. Short-term thinking, the inertia of legacy assets and business models, and pressures from a still-skeptical investor community all slow the spread of shared value solutions. Despite these real barriers, evidence is mounting that the more innovative companies are those pursuing shared value strategies.

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