Sharing as individuals is important to strengthen our relationships and communities. As our parents said time and time again during our childhood, ‘sharing is caring’. But to a self-centered two-year old who wants to keep everything to themselves, sharing can also have the unpleasant connotation of ‘losing’ something.
So what if we took that concept of ‘sharing is caring’ at a business level? Would organisations with sharing behaviours help create a stronger society? Would such actions automatically lead to some sort of sacrifice for the business – financial or others?
I came across a few months ago this Harvard Business Review’s video and article entitled ‘Creating Shared Value‘. Michael E. Porter and Mark R. Kramer introduce the principle of shared value, which involves creating economic value in a way that also creates value for society by addressing its needs and challenges. Unlike the traditional corporate social responsibility school of thought, Porter and Kramer say that shared value is not on the margin of what companies do but at the centre. Businesses connect their financial success directly with social progress. The article goes on mentioning a few examples of shared value initiatives from companies like Johnson & Johnson, Nestlé, Unilever and others.
I got very excited about this concept of shared value… I have always been interested in business, yet have felt there should be a greater purpose to it all. And here comes a practice that attempts to bridge social purpose and profitability; making a real difference while making money – isn’t that capitalism in its best form?
‘Shared value’ is still a concept unheard of by many, but I believe businesses who develop initiatives based on this principle will be able to demonstrate an unparalleled type of leadership and tap into opportunities unseen before.
So let’s embrace that childhood adage that ‘sharing is caring’ and incorporate it to our businesses. I’m very curious to see where it might take us…