Public Value is positive impact on society and the environment. In times of fake news and fundamental change, the quest for trust often takes a public value journey. In this journey, inclusiveness, transparency and empathy are the harbours offering energy and keys for success.
When we met for our founding meeting on 16 September 2017, what mattered to us was to start exploring options to address the current distrust raging towards business and the industry. We acknowledged that, with globalization, the scope of responsibility had changed for all of us, individuals, governments, and business. Our world is going through fundamental societal and environmental changes that go hand in hand with economic tensions. These tensions lead to a profound crisis of trust and to weakening democracies. What is urgently needed is positive impact on society and the environment.
We are not alone in this journey. Suffice to mention the UN and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to reach by 2030, precisely to address the mounting needs of society and of the environment. The UN keeps calling on business to support the SDGs, to go beyond ‘business as usual’. Yet the question remains of how one can help tackling the global systemic challenges we face, and to bring about positive impact.
In our world of growing interconnection and faster dynamics, complexity and ambiguity have tainted the established business paradigms. After decades investing into transparency and compliance, the communications, marketing, and corporate responsibility (CSR) approaches seem no longer sufficient to shape a convincing image of integrity. For companies, the positive impact of their CSR department is not always obvious. For the public, the value creation of these companies is also unclear. Such misunderstanding leads to profound distrust and to a risk of business models’ failure. Corporations have an urgent need to re-shape the fabric of trust to maintain relevance and gain legitimacy, as part of long-term resilience schemes.
Legitimacy and trust are a matter of cultural acceptance. What brings or destroys an image of integrity needs to be intuitively understood by all in the ecosystem, both inside and outside any company or corporation, all the way through the supply chains. No value can be imposed unilaterally. It needs an audience to appreciate, accept and embrace it.
WHY YOUR PUBLIC VALUE?
Your Public Value was registered in Berlin in January 2018 and received a non-profit status soon after. With our Theory of Change, we are now ready to embark on a long journey to increase trust between business and society, while growth opportunities are developed. We look forward to partnering with inspiring people, networks, and organisations to promote public value and help business deliver positive impact.
At Your Public Value, we decided that we would opt for a win-win worldview to co-create solutions with a multi-stakeholder approach and promote the concept of public value. We would consider empathy, compassion and solidarity as key to support the long-lasting change of mindsets. And we would shape an NGO of a new type, away from the traditional “blame and shame” approach. We would explore new paths of cooperation.
Public value is not altruism. It is a mindset that allows business to find inclusive and sustainable growth opportunities in the current volatile world. It is a means to understand upcoming disruption and zones of distrust in any industrial sector. The approach helps generate positive impact in full alignment with the public’s expectations. Examples abound of companies destroying financial, social and brand value because of their disregard of society’s opinions, needs and expectations. Beyond their reputation, we believe such behaviour can endanger companies’ sustainability.
Public value considers both society and the environment as active stakeholders. It articulates a shared purpose among all stakeholders of any corporation. The aim is to be accepted by them all. With the 2030 SDG Agenda, an opportunity is now wide open for business to play their role in shaping our future world.
Our members anchored Your Public Value in multi-stakeholder and inter-generational dialogue. We are convinced that sharing knowledge and best practices across sectors is the best way to cut boundaries and to transform business into a force for good. We are now a team of 20, grateful to our Advisory Council and still convinced that our motto on transparency, dialogue and participation is worth being implemented. Watch our animation that calls for dialogue between business and society.
The beauty of the current sustainability revolution is that it changes the collective interest to save our world from self-interest and an unforeseen growth opportunity for business. A positive example is the French initiative C’est Qui le Patron? that addresses the needs of French dairy farmers, who suffer from globally decreasing milk prices, by asking customers how much they would pay to enable farmers to receive a monthly minimal wage, take a two-week annual break and make sure that cows are properly fed. The results are telling: not only do customers accept to pay 30 cents more for each litre of milk, but the brand also developed above expectations and is now a commercial success.
Impact is complex. Public value defines accountability and principles for inclusive growth to serve as a framework for how business can have positive long-term impact on society and the environment.
There are many standards already existing in the field of environmental and/or social sustainability, and we are not trying to add another set. Instead, we are working towards defining modern accountability and providing a vision for growth opportunities. We believe there is a need for Public Value principles that would boost the UN Global Compact principles. We invite responsible investors, sustainability experts of big corporations and civil society organisations to participate in our Public Value Labs to co-create these principles and share best practices.
“I DON’T WANT TO BE RIGHT, BUT TO OFFER A SOLUTION”
What about the public? We also believe that each of us, citizen and member of the ‘public’, can now have a say in defining what exactly constitutes public value creation. Relying on social media customers now pick and choose the companies they consider closer to their own values. Citizens are clear about what they want and are no longer passive partners. Your Public Value intends to regularly take the pulse of the public by asking citizens what their expectations towards business and value creation are.
At Your Public Value, we believe that accepting the environment as it is, and entering into active listening and honest dialogue can push the boundaries of business and the industry and offer new growth opportunities. We would like to hear from many of you in Europe and understand your priorities as concerned citizens and how you see the future of an inclusive society, of our planet, and of sustainable business. We look forward to being in touch and discussing how you see sustainable and ethical business delivering positive impact!