At this unprecedented time when everyone is asking what we can do for others, we should ask what companies can do for themselves.
If that sounds counterintuitive, or downright silly, I should clarify that I don’t mean in some out-dated zero sum winner-takes-all sense.
I mean it in a Shared Value sense.
Evidence continues to accumulate showing that firms that work to improve the wellbeing of the communities and business ecosystems in which they operate, are more effective, dynamic and, importantly, profitable.
And right now, we’re seeing how Shared Value strategies make businesses more resilient in a crisis.
Writing in Fortune, former Unilever CEO turned sustainability consultant Paul Polman persuasively argues, among other factors, that firms that take care of their employees and “treat their suppliers as partners” are both in a better position to cope with the current public health crisis and will be more resilient during the ensuing economic downturn.
The ability to weather the coming storm may mark a shift in consciousness. Businesses are going to adapt if they wish to prosper.
These new circumstances pose a challenge, but they also present an incredible opportunity. An opportunity to harness the dynamism and effectiveness of the business community to prosper together. An opportunity to transform our businesses and make them more resilient by improving the conditions of staff, suppliers, retailers and communities.
Already, we’ve seen a rich variety of extraordinary initiatives [LINK TO PIECE 2] undertaken by African businesses to protect communities and to help keep the economy rolling.
Of course, even when opportunities present themselves, change can be daunting.
We were extremely excited to announce that the fourth annual Africa Shared Value Leadership Summit would now be a virtual summit.
But I’ll be the first to admit that hosting an eSummit wasn’t what any of us had in mind at the beginning of 2020.
It took us a bit of time to get our heads around it. This is new terrain for us and it’s a massive challenge, not just logistically but conceptually. The annual ASVL Summit is about personal connection, forming those bonds that help us work together more effectively; sharing the knowledge we’ve discovered working in our own communities, and taking home insights from across the continent and around the world.
But we’ve come to see the enormous opportunity. A digital summit is a chance to connect across Africa, ensuring the Summit is accessible in different regions and timezones, over multiple days.
It will also be a chance to make the Summit globally accessible, enabling us to share insights with the world gleaned from case studies and analyses across Africa
Now more than ever is the time to discuss, share, strategise and use that knowledge and partnership to act. Because we need to adapt together in order that we succeed together.