According to Michael E. Porter and Mark R. Kramer in their HBR article “Creating Shared Value,” the gap between social issues and economic wealth needs to narrow. Businesses, especially larger corporations, need to recognize that it’s in their best interest to interact with and impact society in positive ways.

Generating this new interconnectedness between business and society is what drives CSR 2.0, fed by the idea of shared value.

The 2011 Roundtable on Shared Value outlined these three distinct ways to establish shared value:

  • By re-conceiving products and markets
  • Redefining productivity in the value chain; and
  • Building supportive industry clusters at the company’s locations”

The roundtable argued that CSR 2.0 puts a company in a good light, attracts new consumers, and increases economic return. Basically, society brings business to you, and you have a hand in developing the society and ensuring that your growth is sustainable.

Why is closing the gap is so important

As Unilever has brilliantly picked up on, today’s society increasingly views the wellness of the community and social good as crucial to a sustainable present and future. Businesses can support both of these pillars and benefit from that support in return.


Along with Unilever, corporations such as the Adidas Group, Western Union and Heinz have all incorporated social responsibility directly into their company’s core mission. Locally, Canadian Tire’s Jumpstart Program has helped thousands of children participate in organized sports. Their key to success? A passionate team and bridging shared value.

The traditional approach to CSR needs to change. Businesses need to listen and respond more effectively to this societal demand. Recognizing the possibility for shared value is essential not only for the survival of businesses, but also for addressing current and emerging social issues.

How do we highlight the importance of this new approach to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)? It’s up to the community to help businesses recognize the significant social impact they can make.

Looking for more information on CSR? The MaRS Entrepreneur’s Toolkit is a good resource for developing your company’s approach.

Jaclyn Quinn

Jaclyn is an intern with SiG@MaRS, studying Arts & Sciences at the University of Guelph. She is passionate about integrating multiple perspectives and discovering new ways of seeing ideas. See more…