SPONSORED CONTENT |  Australian companies have been early adopters of social purpose initiatives: Corporate social responsibility played a key role in the early 1990s, and in the early 2000s organisations designed employee programs that give staff time off to do volunteer work.

The next evolution is shared value. A shift in mindset from discrete corporate programs that give back to the community, to a strategic approach to doing business in a way that enhances the competitiveness of companies, while improving social and environmental conditions. Creating shared value requires a long-term view; it supports sustainable, ethical business practices, focusing management strategies on maximising competitiveness while solving social problems.

“Shared value is not social responsibility, philanthropy, or sustainability, but a new way for companies to achieve economic success.” Michael E. Porter and Mark Kramer, “Creating Shared Value”, Harvard Business Review

In 2012, the Shared Value Initiative (SVI) was created in the U.S. to drive the adoption and implementation of shared value strategies by organisations around the world. In Australia, the Shared Value Project (SVP) formalised its relationship to the SVI in 2014, as the first global regional partner of the Initiative.

A founding member of the SVP, life insurer AIA Australia is one of the earliest adopters and active practitioners of shared value. It has embedded the concept throughout the organisation, from corporate and employee strategy to product design and delivery, firmly believing this approach delivers the best outcomes.

The company sponsored and participated in the 2018 Shared Value Summit in April. CEO Damien Mu, spoke passionately about the main health challenges in Australia, which contribute to diseases that lead to 90% of deaths: Lifestyle choices around diet, exercise, alcohol consumption and smoking.

As AIA Australia operations reach more than 3.3 million Australians, it’s in an excellent position to identify opportunities to create economic and social benefits.

For example, in 2014, the company introduced AIA Vitality, a science-backed health and wellness program that provides members the tools, inspiration and motivation to get healthier and maintain good health. The program directly tackles the lifestyle choices and health challenges most impacting Australians and underpins the company’s vision to champion Australia to be the healthiest and most protected nation in the world. The benefits are three-fold: members who engage with the AIA Vitality program earn rewards and discounts while improving their health; healthier members are less likely to need to claim on their insurance; and healthier Australians are more productive at work and in society.

It takes scale, commitment and partnerships to create shared value and effect significant change on social and environmental problems. Increasingly, organisations around the world are adopting shared value strategies, and the next generation of workers are choosing employers based on ethical conduct and social good.

At a time when companies and industries are being held to account – not just for operating within the law, but in meeting customer expectations and doing the right thing – having a shared value approach helps a company stay ethically centred, making business decisions that are not just informed by short-term profit goals but by long-term social impact.

Information about Shared Value at AIA Australia can be found here.

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