'Courageous & decisive leadership is crucial': Ann Sherry on shared value thinking for a better world

‘Courageous & decisive leadership has never been more crucial’: Ann Sherry on shared value thinking

Ann Sherry
Ann Sherry believes the best chance for businesses and society to thrive in the future — and even survive — is through courageous leadership that considers all stakeholders involved in a business, particularly the communities they touch.

As such, she’s a big advocate for shared value thinking, especially as she witnessed firsthand how the strategy contributed to significant growth during her time running cruise line company Carnival Australia.

“My definition of shared value is that it’s a way of thinking about your business strategy that’s bigger than just your employees and you shareholders,” she told Women’s Agenda. “A business strategy must also include the communities you serve and touch.”

Sherry was last night named the Shared Value Champion of 2019, at an awards ceremony in Melbourne, for her contribution to this space.

Speaking to Women’s Agenda prior to the ceremony, Sherry described how a shared value strategy helped deliver significant growth at Carnival, with the shipping company expanding out to 50 new destinations over a five year period.

“All those places asked us to come, that’s how shared value works in practice,” she said.

“We stopped thinking about our strategy as places that should feel happy we [our ships] had arrived, to instead considering places that want us to be there because of they value they get from us being there.”

She believes that while there has been progress on shared value thinking in Australia, there is still significant work to do on embedding it in all businesses, especially at a time when, “courageous and decisive leadership is so crucial to ensuring business and societal prosperity.”

Female leaders especially have a great contribution to make, especially as they’re often more in tune with their local communities, said Sherry.

When we speak, Sherry had just gotten off a plane from Bangladesh, after visiting a Rohingya refugee camp of one million people, half of whom are children, in her capacity as the chair of UNICEF Australia.

“It was eye opening, both positively and negatively.”

Sherry noted some of the positives were the pre schools and schools that had been established by UNICEF, which were being enthusiastically attended by children.

But she said that a lot of people there had run out of hope, and that girls were still being married at 13 and 14. “We saw babies with babies, it’s distressing … but one positive there was that the schooling programs established are enabling these girls to bring their babies.”

Sherry was one of a number of corporate leaders and organisations recognised at the Shared Value Awards last night, which aim to celebrate organisations using shared value to deliver on their purposes, as well as the individuals who are influencing to achieve better outcomes for business and society.

They’re leading on important shifts at a critical time in history.

As Shared Value Project CEO Helen Steel said: “Our social and environmental issues have never been greater. Civilians’ calls for change have never been so prolific. And the imperative for corporations to act is most acute.

“The only question, in this defining moment for business, is whether to lead or to follow.”

The full list of award winners included:

Shared Value Champion

Carnival Australia Advisor and former Chairman Ann Sherry AO

Shared Value Trailblazer

Good Shepherd Microfinance CEO Peter McNamara

Corporate organisation leading through shared value

Highly Commended: IAG
Winner: AIA Australia

Small/medium organisation leading through shared value (a new Award for 2019)

Highly Commended: U Ethical
Winner: G For Good

Shared value project by an organisation or collaboration

Highly Commended: NAB’s Clean Energy Finance
Winner: Project PAVE (Engro Fertilizers Limited and Engro Foundation, MEDA Canada, DFAT Australia)

Shared Value Organisation to Watch

Intrepid Group

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