The early, emergent days of measuring shared value
An audience member asked me, “Is that all you’re going to present? Is there some more data here?”
I said, “That’s it. After all, it is the New Metrics for Sustainable Business conference.”
My response, while a bit flippant, reflected today’s reality. Early days. Emergent. When it comes to “measuring shared value,” most companies are in the nascent stages of understanding how to do it effectively.
Both companies, long-time leaders in the corporate philanthropy/CSR space, are also blazing new ground in shared value. In the past year, both have invested in building knowledge and systems to effectively measure shared value in existing and new initiatives around the world.
Courtney Martin, Finance Specialist in the Corporate Affairs Group at Intel, shared how Intel has incorporated measuring shared value lessons into its new initiative design process. With its Girls and Women program that addresses gender-based barriers to education and technology, Intel knows it needs to anticipate both the business and social results of its shared value efforts and put in place measurement systems from the outset. Those systems need to incorporate business units such as sales and marketing as well as corporate affairs. Also, Courtney emphasized the importance of mapping your data collection process up front, i.e., who will collect it, from where, when, how, etc.
Tara Collison, Sr. Manager, Strategic Planning, Corporate Affairs at Cisco, described how their measuring shared value concepts help frame for executives the business value of CSR initiatives. Cisco’s Connecting Sichuan program began as disaster relief – helping the Chinese province recover from the 2008 earthquake devastation. But it evolved into a valuable pilot for using network technology to give rural patients and healthcare providers easier, more affordable access to urban doctors and facilities. It helped transform the Sichuan Province schools into models for 21st-century, digitally-enabled education. In addition to improving health and education outcomes, the project revealed a new commercial application of Cisco’s products in new markets. These insights will inform how Cisco will create and measure shared value in future innovation efforts around the world.
Naturally, we all left the conference with as many questions as answers about how to incorporate all these “new metrics” into existing business processes. But we also tip our cap to those leaders who, while experimenting along the shared value journey, are happy to quench our thirst for learning by openly sharing their lessons along the way.
Greg Hills is a managing director at FSG. With a global network of funders, FSG launched the Shared Value Initiative, a new community of shared value practitioners. Learn more at sharedvalue.org and join the community.