The partners of Skinner & Associates, Freedom Accounting and Freedom Financial have decided to undertake a shared value project developed around the idea of empowering women who are in abusive or oppressive relationships. We are not doing this as a charitable project but rather one that will strengthen our firms at the same time as helping vulnerable members of our community and, in a small way, starting to address the economic impact of domestic violence which costs the Australian economy $21B a year.
We are in the product development stage at the moment and are looking to engage with a broad range of stakeholders who might be willing to help us understand the needs of our target market who are made up of women in oppressive, economically or otherwise, or abusive relationships or who are still dealing with a former partner falling into any of those categories who are in a position, now or following appropriate court proceedings, to pay for the services which we can provide.
The core idea is to provide a seamless suite of services spanning family law, both property and children’s issues, protective court orders in the form of apprehended violence or intervention orders and potentially exploring civil proceedings for assault. These services will come out of the law firm. It seems clear that a key issue for our target market is financial empowerment and we will be developing a service offering through the accounting and financial planning firms to address this aspect.
The underlying theory for this project is derived from the work of Harvard Professors Michael Porter and Mark Kramer in their highly influential Harvard Business Review article “Creating Shared Value”. According to Porter & Kramer shared value is created when a business creates “economic value in a way that also creates value for society by addressing its needs and challenges”.
We intend to develop the project in an open source format in the hope that it will be successful and provide a process model for other local businesses that might be attracted to the idea of helping add social or environmental value to the local community but not know how to go about doing that.
It is acknowledged that our project will not be able to service everyone who is enduring an oppressive or abusive relationship but we can certainly help some women.
The project endorses the observation that Porter & Kramer make that “businesses acting as businesses, not as charitable donors, are the most powerful force for addressing the pressing issues we face” as a society.
More information and examples of shared value creation are available on the website of the Shared Value Project