WATCH: 'What is Creating Shared Value'?

Jun 4, 2012 9:00 PM ET

Watch: 'What is Creating Shared Value'?

Creating Shared Value (CSV) is a powerful tool and concept for companies to use as they look to conduct business. Ultimately, it’s a strategy for developing the future market while also strengthening economies, the marketplace, communities, and corporate coffers. Yet the term runs the risk of being confused with corporate social responsibility (CSR) or, worse, as being a way to redistribute wealth. To combat this, we are launching a video to illustrate and explain the concept of CSV. 

You see, sometimes it seems that the CSR field is engaged in a lifelong game of the 1970s game show classic, Password. In this version, each of us practitioners tries to guess the next iteration of the naming rights of the field based upon one-word associations.

Your C-Level celebrity and partner utters the acronym “CSR” and you respond “SUSTAINABILITY!” The crowd gives a round of applause and you get a pat on the back. Then it’s on to the next word.

About the last thing the CSR or sustainability field needs is yet another term for itself. A while back, I wrote a blog post about this confusion in an attempt to describe where I stand about this word choice.  And now the field is faced with another term: Creating Shared Value (CSV).

But in conversations with corporate folks, academics, and social media mavens, I find that most meet CSV with some hesitancy. In part, I think this hesitancy is due to understandable resistance to the Password game of terminology, which I jokingly described above.

But CSV shouldn’t be dismissed as yet another round of this game. CSV is a very powerful concept that can serve as a valuable forcing function for companies to think differently about its approach to social and environmental issues. Indeed, major companies, such as Nestle, have begun approaching business explicitly using the CSV framework.