Michael Porter's and Mark Kramer's seminal article in the Harvard Business Review helped redefine the way companies should consider the world in which they operate. "Societal needs, not just conventional economic needs, define markets, and social harms can create internal costs for firms," stated Michael Porter in Creating Shared Value (HBR, 2011). At the heart of shared value is a commitment by a firm to operate in a way that both enhances its competitiveness while simultaneously advancing economic, social and environmental conditions in the communities where it operates and serves.
Why is shared value not more widely practiced? Because it demands longer term thinking to create value for businesses and communities. This is the kind of thinking that we need to better manage our oceans and fisheries, the centerpiece of our conversation this week at SXSW Eco Forum. Our panel includes experts who have seen improvements happen on the water when all interested parties work together to create opportunity at every stage of the value chain. And it's why Darden continues to invest in fisheries around the world – whether it's our commitment to the Honduras spiny lobster fishery or the creation of lobster aquaculture in Malaysia.
However, making shared value a core part of every business decision takes time and a commitment to understanding the full impact of one’s operations. This is why we are participating in the Sustainability Consortium – an organization driving innovation to improve product sustainability. Through this organization, we will identify the critical issues in our supply chain, whether environmental or others, that we must work with industries to address. By working collaboratively with other businesses and our full value chain, we can accomplish more than what we could do alone.
Finally, by working to create shared value with our key partnerships, we are working to solve pressing issues for a growing population. Given the demand for food with a rapidly expanding population and middle class, empowering communities to become participants, not just consumers, in the food system will empower us to find the right solutions for our shared future. By partnering with park systems all around the country, Darden and the National Parks & Recreation Association are enabling communities to "Grow Their Park" and share food with those in need by creating and expanding community gardens.
We have a long journey ahead of us to reach shared value in all our efforts. But we have a history of making progress in this space and are investing in collaboration we believe will advance our business, our planet, and the communities where we operate and source our food.
By: Brandon Tidwell, Darden Restaurants
Brandon Tidwell is Manager of Sustainability for Darden Restaurants. In this role, he is responsible for the development and implementation of corporate sustainability strategies and policies across all of Darden. Brandon joined Darden from FedEx. He received his Master's in Business Administration at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler School of Business. He also holds a master's degree in Social Work from Baylor and a certificate in Philanthropy from New York University.
Pictured: Participants in the 2013 SXSW Eco Conference panel 'Are There Really Plenty of Fish in the Sea?' From left to right: Brandon Tidwell, Darden Restaurants Manager of Sustainability; Teresa Ish, Walton Family Foundation Fisheries Fund Director; Julie Watson, Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders' Alliance Program Director; and Stephen Box, Smithsonian Institute Program Coordinator for Spatial Ecology of Marine Protected Areas.