Creating Shared Value (CSV) in CSR

Creating Shared Value (CSV) in CSR

The concept of CSV originates from an article written by Harvard Professor Michael Porter and Harvard Kennedy School of Government Senior Fellow Mark Kramer.

The authors presented the concept of CSV in a 2006 Harvard Business Review article, and detailed it further in a January 2011 follow-up article. (Forbes, 2012).

In 2012, the Shared Value Initiative was launched as a Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action with the support of Mark Kramer, Michael Porter, and the new executive director of the initiative, Justin Bakule(Sharedvalue.org)

CSV is defined as “a management strategy in which companies find business opportunities in social problems. While philanthropy and CSR focus efforts on “giving back” or minimizing the harm business has on society, shared value focuses company leaders on maximizing the competitive value of solving social problems in new customers and markets, cost savings, talent retention, and more.” (Sharedvalue.org)

This concept encourages companies to seek social issues that they have the ability to impact, and those that can actually benefit them through financial or non-financial returns, thus creating mutual benefit towards their performance and the communities they operate in. Keeping CSV at the center of CSR helps companies strategically select partner organizations, NGOs, non-profits that are directly related to their line of work – thereby creating the shared value effect and increasing benefits to both the private sector and society.

In this article, we want to shed light on the concept of CSV and the importance of having this ideology at the core of CSR, especially at the beginning stages when companies are defining their social responsibility goals.

For every goal the company defines under social responsibility, evaluating how this goals will create value for all stakeholders, including the company itself, sets the stage for integrating CSV into CSR.

Setting Goals Under Key Strategic Pillars

Before we dive into Creating Shared Value in CSR goals, we have to understand the how goals are set under CSR pillars. CSR pillars are usually broad guidelines for the company’s overall sustainability and CSR direction. Pillars are set based on a result of feedback from engaging stakeholders and aligning that feedback with key national and international vision and strategies.

The next phase would be focused on identifying how these pillars could be integrated into the daily operations of existing teams and units. Let’s assume that one of the pillars was Women Empowerment. What follows is a series of internal meetings or discussions with units that can dissect this broad pillar and break it into smaller goals that departmental teams can be responsible for.

Such a process would involve different units and teams including Top Management, Human Resources, Training and Development, Project Management, Communications, which transfers CSR activities from the hands of one team or a few employees, to all departments in a company. This is crucial for creating holistic ownership and ensuring that all teams start embedding CSR into their daily operations.

The most effective tool to get teams’ buy in and support is to properly conduct internal engagements. Employees feel much more responsible towards achieving CSR if they are involved in the initial planning and defining of social responsibility. This initial involvement brings out better results and engagement as opposed to requesting employees to implement imposed CSR goals.

Consulting with employees and all departments is crucial to the process of defining CSR pillars as their input brings in new ideas that enrich the chosen pillars and an understanding of resources, capacity and process that highly affect whether CSR goals are achievable. Therefore in order to successfully build and enhance social responsibility in any organization, engaging employees in early stages is pivotal to implementing goals tied to CSR pillars.

Once CSR pillars and goals have been set, companies must perfectly understand and envision the shared value they are creating and follow the metrics of measurements to evaluate and improve their success.

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