Insights from Boston Global Shared Value Leadership Summit

It was encouraging to see how quickly the concept of shared value had progressed since the release of Porter & Kramer’s Harvard Business Review article in January 2011.

Highlights of the program included: a dynamic conversation between the Chairman of Nestlé, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, and FSG’s co-founder, Professor Michael E. Porter of Harvard Business School; a CEO panel on embedding shared value into the business featured leaders from among the largest pharmaceutical companies, NGOs, and philanthropies including, Vincent Forlenza, CEO of BD, Neal Keny-Guyer, CEO of Mercy Corps, and Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation; and Porter’s opening presentation on the latest CSV thinking.

Some of the key insights from the day include:

  • “It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen” – CSV is a journey for companies. At the beginning, shared value is typically additional or complimentary to corporate strategy. Over time, as the company ‘builds and trains new muscles’, shared value can become the heard of corporate strategy, innovation and creativity.
  • “Everyone is still in business” – CSV is not about companies usurping the role of governments or NGOs. It is about reorganising relationships and rethinking roles across all sectors, to harness the capacity of all, fuel innovation, and achieve scale in solving the social and environmental problems that continue to grow at pace.
  • “Co-exist and complement” – CSV does not replace corporate philanthropy and traditional CSR/sustainability efforts. They are both important building blocks for good CSV practice, and ideally CSV is complementary, aligned and additional to both. The successful business of the future will feature strategic philanthropy, good ESG/CSR performance, and pursuit of shared value in targeted areas that align with the business’ essence and purpose. The business will present a portfolio of smart, connected approaches to investors.
  • “Shared value is capitalism” – Phrase repeated by Porter, and perhaps provocative, but his point is that shared value harnesses capitalism to produce solutions at SCALE. Pursuing the solution itself generates capital to pursue the solution at greater scale.
  • “There is no one-size-fits-all” – the very nature of CSV means that it is company specific, emerging from the unique intersection of corporate assets, business opportunities and challenges, and social or environmental problems able to be meaningfully addressed.

Many of the presentations from the Summit are available online, if you join the new Shared Value Initiative community of practice. Go to and register today.

To learn more about creating shared value and how it relates to your business, contact Cameron Neil on or 03 8641 6433 or view Net Balance’s CSV capabilities.

Cameron Neil is a Senior Associate of Net Balance (,
one of the world’s leading sustainability advisory firms. Cameron is based in Melbourne.

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