Profits & Purpose: The State of Shared Value

By Rachel Adrian



This past week, the annual Shared Value Conference was held in New York City. Shared value has been around for a few years now. A recent report, The State of Shared Value in Australia by the Shared Value Project has us reflecting on the state of shared value worldwide.The report details the state of shared value, the challenges, the benefits, and critical next steps. It also has a few case studies to illustrate successful shared value in practice – which is always helpful in understanding the potential.

Who’s Doing Shared Value?

In our work we have found that many of the companies that are doing shared value, don’t call it that.  Shared value must be fully intentional and integrated into a company’s strategy. Because shared value is so integrated into everything that these companies do, they often won’t think of it as a separate activity, but rather as the way they do business.

"We believe that creating shared value is a source of sustainable competitive advantage.” PriceWaterhouseCoopers

Challenges to Shared Value:

Shared value definitely isn’t easy; it takes an incredibly intentional and strategic team to deliver both business benefits and social value. The Shared Value Project’s report came up with 3 broad categories of the challenges facing shared value companies:1. Internal Perceptions & Communication      2. Outcomes Measurement      3. Alignment & Delivery

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 9.06.44 AM

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 9.06.44 AM

These three challenges align with what we have seen in our work here in Canada. Internal communication, outcomes measurement and alignment/delivery are common problems that we help our clients work through everyday.

Benefits of Shared Value:



While there are challenges to shared value, businesses that have embraced shared value have also seen numerous benefits to their bottom line. The report highlighted added brand value, increased core-business returns and social benefits as the top benefits to implementing shared value throughout their companies.We would agree that these are benefits that shared value companies are seeing in Canada as well. Shared value gives companies a unique competitive advantage in that not only are they contributing to the greater good of society but that their contributions to the greater good also drive business returns including increased customer and employee engagement. Implementing shared value requires a deep commitment and courage but this research is evidence that companies are seeing direct business benefits.

“We have recognized that we can help solve problems of our consumers and by doing so w can make a positive contribution to society while providing good returns to our shareholders.” Nestlé

The business world is in a state of constant change. Changing demographics, increased innovation, a need for transparency and finite resources are causing businesses to re-evaluate their CSR strategies. Many are turning to shared value to help them strategically align business returns with community needs. 

Partnerships are KEY to Shared Value

People typically think of businesses role in creating shared value. However, both non-profits and government have a huge role to play in facilitating the shared value process. Non-profits have the ability to act as strategic partners for businesses and provide for the community. Government has the unique ability to create policy and taxation that supports shared value companies and allows them to flourish.



A few months ago, the Australian government announced a new initiative to improve the private sectors engagement in aid and development. The initiative is called

Creating Shared Value through Partnership

and it will bring the government and business together to create shared value and spur development.Watch this video for more info about how the Australian government is engaging with the private sector in shared value creation.

It is exciting to learn about the progress of shared value in Australia. This survey is an excellent benchmarking tool and holds many insights into shared value, not only in Australia but around the world.