As Globe 2016, North America’s largest and most influential sustainable business leadership summit, unfolds in Vancouver this week, it’s a good time to reflect on how each of our own organizations are creating impact, and how we can further use innovation in business strategies to help address our community challenges. Speaking at Globe this year is Michael Porter, business leader and Harvard professor and co-author of Creating Shared Value in the January-February 2011 edition of the Harvard Business Review (for a copy of the full article, contact Cheeying). We are reminded of Mr. Porter’s concept of ‘shared value,’ which focuses on the connections between societal and economic progress, and on using the power of market-based competition in addressing social/environmental challenges. According to Mr. Porter, shared value strategies have the power to unleash the next wave of global growth.

blog imageI totally believe this, and am excited to help build this wave. We are increasingly seeing companies – big and small – not only embracing corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies, but moving beyond CSR and into deeper shared value and sustainability, and creating or becoming social ventures, where the common community good is literally baked into the organization’s goals and DNA. Last year I spoke to a group of a dozen CEOs of leading BC/Canadian companies about this idea, and not one single CEO disagreed with the need to integrate community impact with profit targets.

I also love Mr. Porter’s quote, “Not all profit is equal. Profits involving a social purpose represent a higher form of capitalism, one that creates a positive cycle of company and community prosperity.” Sounds like a call to action!

So what can we learn from business leaders who strive to create shared value? One of the ways that the Whistler Centre is working on to share these leading practices and to encourage impact is through the Social Venture Challenge, our program designed to encourage and support the development of new social ventures, in other words, organizations (businesses, non-profits or solo entrepreneurs) that use business strategies to help address social and/or environmental challenges. This year our kick-off event is on March 18th at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre in Whistler, and we have an amazing line up of speakers including:

  • Dion Whyte, GM of Persephone Brewing, the first certified B-Corporation in BC!
  • Laura Barreca, COO of CleanStart, a junk removal and property cleanup service employing people with barriers to employment
  • Bobby Lax, Manager of the Tofino Ucluelet Culinary Guild, which assists restaurants, grocers and individuals to access and support local and independent producers
  • Mike Rowlands, CEO of Junxion, who will speak about ‘raising our game’ – how we can collectively move towards greater shared value.

I hope you can join us at our kick-off event, or in our collective efforts of ‘doing good through business.’ If you want to share any thoughts, I’d love to talk to you – send me a note at any time and I’ll get back to you right away.

More information about our Social Venture Challenge kick-off event.