Michael Porter Calls on Teams to Leave CSR Behind

27th September 2011

In the opening address to an audience made up of some of sport’s most influential figures gathered for Beyond Sport United at Yankee Stadium, Michael Porter, the Bishop William Lawrence University Professor at Harvard Business School, set out a vision of the future for the engagement of sport teams – and the entire business world – in their communities.

Professor Porter pointed to the long history that sport teams have of supporting their communities, but called on more than 250 influential figures in the audience to move beyond philanthropy and corporate social responsibility to what he describes as ‘Creating Shared Value’ (CSV) – policies and practices that enhance a team or a league’s success as a business while simultaneously advancing social and economic conditions in the communities in which it operates. CSV, Professor Porter explained, integrates community benefit into an organisation’s core business agenda.

Professor Porter urged his audience, which included NFL team owners, the presidents of franchises from across the US major leagues and representatives of some of the Premier League’s top clubs amongst many other global representatives, to work to fix the “growing disconnect between success in business and success in the community.”

He commented: “Businesses can drive important, substantial societal improvement while actually making their business better and, in many cases, more profitable. And when I say this, I just know what some of you are thinking – ‘if I am making money doing something, that can’t be socially responsible. If I am making money doing something, that is not as worthy as giving or donating money.’ Get that idea out of your mind. If you can turn your core business into something that directly drives social progress, that’s the highest impact of all.”

“This industry can be a role model for all others,” Professor Porter insisted.

The potential for that was underlined by the presence of some of the most influential figures in that industry at Yankee Stadium. Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball Association (NBA); the National Football League (NFL); the National Hockey League (NHL); Major League Soccer (MLS); and the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) are all signed on as Founding Supporters of Beyond Sport United – the first time the major US sports leagues have collaborated around the issue of sport and social change.

Sports Illustrated has backed the initiative as Official Media Partner.

Beyond Sport United is also partnered with secondary ticketing pioneers StubHub, executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles and United who have lent their substantial support to this unique event.

The Beyond Sport Summit and Awards 2011 will take place in Cape Town, South Africa from December 5-8.