Companies do not operate in isolation.
The synergy between business success and addressing social problems can be powerful. The first large-scale program to diagnose and treat HIV/AIDS in South Africa? It was introduced by the global mining company Anglo American to protect its workforce and reduce absenteeism. How did more than 200 million people in developing countries gain access to financial services? It was through the mobile-banking technology that MasterCard provided them, much to the benefit of both the company and their customers.
More and more companies are adopting a shared value approach—pursuing financial success in a way that also benefits society—as they look for new economic opportunities, seek to regain the public’s trust, and work to solve some of the world’s most pressing social problems. But these companies don’t operate in isolation. Each exists in an ecosystem where factors beyond their control limit their ability to create shared value.
In “The Ecosystem of Shared Value,” FSG’s Mark Kramer and Marc Pfitzer argue that to overcome these barriers, businesses must initiate collective impact efforts that involve all players in their ecosystem. The article, published in Harvard Business Review, examines the 5 principles of collective impact and explores how Norway-based manufacturer Yara and the retail giant Walmart are using this approach to not only advance social progress, but also find economic opportunities that their competitors miss.