Board rooms throughout the world are abuzz with a new approach to doing business under the banner of creating “shared value.” Shared value is created when companies generate economic value to serve their business interests in a way that simultaneously produces value for society by addressing social and environmental challenges. This approach was articulated in a feature story in the Harvard Business Review earlier this year (The Big Idea: Creating Shared Value) and has the attention of chief executives and social entrepreneurs around the world.
In Northern California’s Sacramento Valley, business leaders have been exploring new and creative ways to advance approaches to shared value, many of which are readily evident and can been seen when visiting the region. Prominently, family rice farmers have been on the leading edge in advancing shared values as they continually seek innovative ways to achieve economic success, while providing important habitat to support nearly 230 wildlife species along the Pacific Flyway. Similarly, the water resources managers in the region continue to develop creative ways to assure reliable water deliveries for farms, wildlife refuges and managed wetlands; while simultaneously undertaking aggressive efforts to protect and enhance habitat for Chinook salmon and other fisheries. In fact, it is the integrated nature of these shared values that defines the Sacramento Valley and makes it a truly special and unique region.
Although I have not heard the term shared value specifically used in these discussions, I have been a part of countless conversations throughout the Sacramento Valley where this triple bottom line approach to business and water resources management has been advanced. Interestingly, a management culture has emerged in the Sacramento Valley from these discussions where self-interested economic decisions are imbued with important environmental and social values. It should be noted that these same values (economic, social and environmental) are also the three pillars that form the foundation for the sustainability initiative that guides business and water resources managers in the Sacramento Valley.
We applaud the innovative thinking emerging around shared values and welcome thoughts on further advancing these concepts in the Sacramento Valley.