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Shared Value Project interview series: Cassian Drew

Positive Impact Partnerships solve complex societal issues through multi-stakeholder coalitions. Palladium's Asia Pacific Regional Director, Cassian Drew, shares his experience with Shared Value Project.

Photo credit: Shared Value Project ow.ly/7xCo30cH5YG

What does shared value mean to you?
To me, shared value represents distinct mobilisation of private sector talent and capital that is aiming to address societal issues through new business models. Beyond this, it also represents a measurable shift in the psyche of the private sector as the ‘softer’ social and environmental agenda of corporations is viewed through a core-business lens: It represents a shift in the nature of business opportunities, as well as a shift in the focus of innovation.

I believe that, in some sense, shared value has also presented private sector talent with a language and purpose that can be used to encapsulate a lot of interesting and trending concepts that are particularly engaging for millennials; including disruption, social impact, and social enterprise. To me, through the work we are doing at Palladium, it has also drawn in the opportunity to link business strategy with broader discussions around partnerships for change, blended finance and offset instruments such as impact bonds.

What are some lessons we as businesses can learn from shared value?
Porter and Kramer’s catalysing Harvard Business Review article presented a clear framework through which executives could consider how their business might create a positive impact on society. However, many executives I’ve spoken with will quickly claim that their organisation has been practising shared value well before the term was popularised.

In fact, even in the international development world where shared value has gained significant traction, the technical activities of creating shared value have been a core part of the international development toolkit for decades; termed market development. And, even today some development agencies will use shared value and market development concurrently and distinctively.

A lesson for business is that corporations around the world have aspired to shared value principals for a long time. However, right now, the coincidental business environment conditions of changing political economy, new consumer demand, millennial talent aspiration, and increased need for social licence to operate are together the catalyst for a renewed focus on achieving shared value aspirations. I think businesses should see that the timing is right to invest further in societal purpose. I also see that businesses taking an early position in this space are being rewarded. Regardless of the scale of impact, the early adopters have had significant global coverage of their activities.

To read the full interview on Shared Value Project, please click here