Opening remarks by Acting SCED at Shared Value Forum 2017 (English only)
Following are the opening remarks by the Acting Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Dr Bernard Chan, at the Shared Value Forum 2017 today (September 21):
Good morning, everyone.
First of all, allow me to bring you greetings and good wishes from Mrs Carrie Lam, our Chief Executive. In her former role, Carrie opened the first of these conferences two years ago. As you can understand from the video that you just saw, the creation of shared value is a matter that remains very close to her heart.
And the only reason for her not being here with you today is that Carrie, together with Mr Edward Yau, the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, are in Europe working to promote trade and economic relations between Hong Kong and the communities there. Trade development has long been at the heart of our success as a business centre and it will always remain a major factor in providing opportunities for businesses. Nonetheless, trade development has never been the only factor behind success for businesses or for the communities on which businesses depend upon. The concept of creating shared value helps draw attention to many other factors, and today is a wonderful opportunity for us to look closely at these factors, like the underserved and unrecognised markets, and capabilities and knowledge within our own communities.
So, what is shared value? In theory, shared value is supposed to help improve reputation, earn social license to operate, foster new partnerships, improve employee loyalty, and spur product or service innovation. Investors care about the ESG (i.e. environmental, social, and governance) performance of companies, and the shared value approach to business is a conduit to elevating ESG performance.
According to the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance, which counts JP Morgan, BlackRock, HSBC and Standard Chartered amongst others as members, ESG investment assets reached nearly US$23 trillion at the beginning of 2016, a 25 per cent increase from 2014. In the United States, one out of every five dollars under professional management is managed using sustainable and responsible investment strategies.
A State Street survey in March 2017 found that in Asia-Pacific, 41 per cent of retail investors had incorporated ESG principles in their investments over the previous year, as compared with one-third of investors globally.
So, the idea of creating shared value is nothing new; people around the world have been tackling the subject. While Michael Porter and Mark Kramer were the first to coin the term and to give rigour to the concept, the challenges of competition and concerns about the inequalities and tensions of the modern world have led to a number of companies innovating in a disruptive manner. We will be hearing from the experience of several of these today - and on your behalf I would like to thank the speakers for sharing their insight. But going back in time there are other examples to be found of people who have discovered ways to transform their businesses and transform their communities, and I would like to share some words from one such person with you.
That person was the younger John Lewis. In the 1920s, John transformed his father's company into the John Lewis Partnership, which today remains one of the most respected and successful retailers in the United Kingdom. Speaking of what inspired his ideas of a partnership between all those who worked in an enterprise, he had this to say:
"Rightly or wrongly I feel quite certain that the general idea of substituting partnership for exploiting employment is nowadays in the air and will spread through industry of all kinds. It is already dear to many hearts besides my own, for it makes work something to live for as well as something to live by. Here may be the new source of working energy of which our country is in such grave need."
Of course, conditions today in Hong Kong differ very significantly from Britain in the 1920s, but there are similarities that still make John Lewis' words relevant to us today. Like his innovation of seeking and securing that all members of the partnership will share as fairly as possible in gain, knowledge and power, I think this certainly remains a source of inspiration for today.
Ladies and gentlemen, I hope that today's conference will inspire new ideas and partnerships to help create shared value in this city. I would like to thank Our Hong Kong Foundation for being our strategic partner in hosting this event and the Swedish Chamber of Commerce for introducing the Swedish Model to the conference. I would also like to thank the organisations we will be working with to provide follow-on support to all who want to pursue shared value further. And while the decisions on business innovation must be decisions for business alone to make, be assured that the Government will be your constant and committed partner. Together, we will empower our society and economy to continue to flourish for the benefit of all its members in the years to come.
Thank you so much.
Ends/Thursday, September 21, 2017