June, 2011Can businesses sustain meaningful growth, drive innovation, and simultaneously address some of the most important societal challenges facing communities and nations globally? The CEOs whose insights form the basis of a new research report by the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP), an international forum of global CEOs focused on raising the level and quality of corporate engagement on societal issues, and Accenture (NYSE: ACN), a global management consulting, technology services, and outsourcing company, see the answer to that question as an unequivocal "yes." These CEOs are moving beyond traditional ideas of philanthropy and beyond traditional corporate strategy as well; they are looking for competitive advantage and sustainable profitability in the increasingly-converged space between financial success and societal progress.
The report, "Business at its Best: Driving Sustainable Value Creation," features commentary from CEOs across industries and case studies from around the world, including: Alcoa (NYSE: AA), The Campbell Soup Company (NYSE: CPB), Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), HSBC (NYSE: HBC), GE (NYSE: GE), Novartis AG (NYSE: NVS), PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP), S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc., and Verizon (NYSE: VZ).
"Business at its Best" provides actionable frameworks to help companies close the gap between vision and execution, as demonstrated in a poll conducted at CECP's 2011 Board of Boards CEO Conference:
The report addresses these obstacles and aims to unlock the transformative potential of Sustainable Value Creation, a core business strategy focused on addressing fundamental societal issues by identifying new, scalable sources of competitive advantage that generate measurable profit and community benefit.
"The CEOs interviewed for this report stressed that, as with any competitive strategy, seizing the full advantage of Sustainable Value Creation requires immediate action. Fundamental societal issues lurk behind many of the challenges business will face over the next decade. Companies can address those issues now, proactively, when the full suite of possible responses is still available -- or they can react to them later, when optimal solutions may be more expensive and the opportunities to achieve competitive differentiation fewer," said Charles Moore, executive director, CECP.
"A Sustainable Value Creation strategy is, in many ways, an extension of the same capabilities at which leading businesses already excel, such as understanding consumer needs and investing in innovation," said Bruno Berthon, managing director, Accenture Sustainability Services. "Now they need to extend those competencies in ways that address societal and environmental concerns through core commercial strategies that drive growth."
The concept is simple, but the execution of the strategy is complex. It is that complexity that prompted CECP and Accenture to help corporate CEOs plan, manage, and scale a Sustainable Value Creation strategy through actionable advice around five implementation imperatives:
Ultimately, Sustainable Value Creation has transformative power both at the level of the individual enterprise -- where the strategy serves as a filter through which all new business opportunities and investments are evaluated -- and more broadly: helping companies from all industries to engage with their communities as true partners working together for mutual advancement.