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Gordon Watson: Celebrating Two Years of Accelerated Progress

by | Sep 20, 2019

Written by Gordon Watson, Chair of Shared Value Initiative Hong Kong

Global Challenges and the Future of Business

Global challenges are more apparent than ever. In an increasingly volatile, complex and uncertain environment,  businesses require resilience to thrive, let alone survive. From every issue or crisis, a shared value culture can open up strategic possibilities for an organisation to differentiate itself to drive innovation, productivity and economic growth.

You will recall, that it was Michael Porter and Mark Kramer’s influential Harvard Business Review article that identified shared value as a business strategy, creating competitive advantage by aligning profit and purpose. We are fortunate to have Mark Kramer on the Board at Shared Value Initiative Hong Kong (SVIHK).

The significant shift towards identifying purpose and the process for defining shared value is gathering momentum. Sitting on the fence is not an option when growth, job creation and financial stability are at risk.

Only recently, 181 global CEOs at the SVIHK Business Roundtable delivered a powerful message that they will commit to lead for the benefit of ALL stakeholders and not simply for the purpose of profit. It is apparent, that society now expects businesses to help solve the broader communal issues it faces.  The successful companies will be those which are able to adapt to this new set of expectations, quickly and efficiently.


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What have we been up to?

It’s hard to believe how quickly time has passed since I launched  SVIHK two years ago.  It is  equally staggering to see how the global economic landscape has changed so dramatically in that period.

Our eight founding members, of which are among the most prominent businesses in Hong Kong, have extensive workforces, customer bases and diverse products.  They have chosen to lead the way by adopting Shared Value. With them, we have been able to shine the spotlight on various societal issues relevant to Hong Kong where the private sector can have an impact.

The launch of our first key activity on the subject  of mental well-being was an exciting milestone.  Accenture Hong Kong hosted the ‘Mental Health Visioning and Scoping Workshop’ for SVIHK and we were able to co-create innovative ways to address the mental health challenge in Hong Kong while generating business value. This workshop led to the creation of an 18-month roadmap of initiatives for the SVIHK members to help them pave the way for better mental health in Hong Kong.

As part of our efforts to increase understanding of Shared Value, SVIHK has hosted three Shared Value 101 training programs for over 50 Shared Value champions. We have also hosted public talks, delivered on numerous speaking opportunities and organised or co-hosted over 30 events.

The cohort of Shared Value champions continues to grow and we now have over 70 SVIHK professionals joining in our efforts to bring value to our communities.


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Where are we heading and what’s next?

Looking forward, we begin in earnest with our next campaign – Ageing Society, where we plan to ignite the conversation around three fundamental issues (housing, employment and caregiving) as we look to older adults as customers, talent and valuable members of our community.

The key to success in any business is staying ahead of the competition and a mission of creating shared value can lead to tangible benefits to both business and society. Many companies are joining the movement and leading the change in the way we do business. Stay tuned for more!

About Gordon Watson

Gordon Watson

Gordon Watson
Founding Chair, Shared Value Initiative Hong Kong Chairman &  a Director of Shared Value Project Australia & New Zealand

Gordon Watson is the Chief Executive Officer of AXA Asia and a member of the Management Committee of AXA Group. Gordon has a MBA and is both a Fellow of the Chartered Insurance Institute and the Society of Marketing.

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