Mutual Value and ESG: Leading the way Think Impact

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Mutual Value and ESG: Leading the way Think Impact

Written by Kevin Robbie - Interview with Melina Morrison, CEO of the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM) | 6th October 2022

We recently had the privilege of interviewing Melina Morrison, CEO of the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM). The focus of the interview was around the Mutual Value Measurement Framework (MVMF) © approach that has been developed by the BCCM and Monash Business School. Here are some of the takeaways from the interview:

What was the driver to develop the MVMF?

MM: “The mutual or co-op model is unique in terms of the social dividends that it offers society. Whilst they operate as successful businesses, co-ops and mutuals have different drivers in terms of how they engage members, use profits and add value to society. We wanted to develop a measurement approach that captured the broad value that our businesses create. Partially this is to help them understand where they are creating value. But also to assist in communicating that value at a policy influence level.

One of the challenges was that much of the value that co-ops and mutuals create is often invisible to others. We wanted a measurement approach that made visible the total value creation of the sector.

Also one of the key drivers was that we want to see more co-ops and mutuals in Australia.”

How did you approach the process?

MM: “We knew that this was a pioneering approach worldwide and we wanted it to have credibility. We decided to team up with researchers from the Monash Business School, Australian National University and Warwick Business School (UK), our members and the co-operative and mutual enterprise sector, to find a new way of measuring our positive impact on our members, our customers, the community and the economy.

The project involved embedding academics within thirteen co-operative and mutual enterprises (CMEs) to collaborate and shape a shared understanding of the areas where mutuals create value. It was an in-depth, intense process throughout 2017-2019.

The result of the work was the creation of the Mutual Value Measurement Framework (MVMF) ©. As said, we think it is the first in the world and there is great interest in it, well beyond the shores of Australia.

The framework has six dimensions to cover the areas of value that CMEs generate. These are:

  • Commerciality – generating sustainable economic value for current and future members;
  • Shaping Markets – creating and sustaining competitive markets;
  • Member Relationships;
  • Community Relationships;
  • Ecosystem and Reciprocity – recognising that stakeholders are part of the same mutually beneficial community; and finally,
  • The Mutual Mindset – committing to acting ethically and sustainably.

The MVMF © is illustrated in Figure one at the end of the article.

What have you learned?

MM: “We started with a series of questions – ‘how do you create value?’; ‘where do you want to create value?’; and ‘how do you want to measure that value?’.

They seem simple questions but as we got into the pilot process with our co-op and mutual partners the conversations were very deep and revealing. It is hard to point to just a few things that we learned as it is fair to say that every partner in the process went on a learning journey.

That is one of the great things that we think sits at the heart of the MVMF©. It allows co-ops and mutuals to learn what they are doing well and how they could do things better.

We are seeing it used as a strategic planning tool by the CMEs that have signed up to use it following the pilot. It is highly customisable and being used by large and small organisations. For example we have HCF and Hepburn Wind using it.

Organisations can dial it up or down to fit with their circumstances, we learned to be very adaptable through the pandemic as our members faced multiple different challenges.

For organisations that are taking a different approach to measurement, particularly those that have to measure their social impact, then the approach is adaptable and can absorb impact measurement into the mutual value measurement approach we have. Also the licence model means that any CME that signs up for it has someone walking along with them as they take the journey.

Plus with the growth of impact or sustainability reporting that we are seeing, we think it gives co-ops and mutuals a great approach to framing their report.”

What do you think the future holds in terms of value measurement?

MM: One of the things I’m most excited about is the integration of the MVMF© into the focus on ESG. We are seeing across the sectors the need for every type of company to be making clear their Environmental, Social and Governance or sustainability position.

In the next few years every company – big or small – will need to be making their ESG position clear.

It needs to go beyond statements of intent or vague commitments. Companies of all sorts will need to be showing what action they are taking to tackle the key challenges we have as a society around sustainability.

I really believe that ESG/Sustainability reports will be the future. What we are saying to co-ops and mutuals is that they will need to be producing reports and that the MVMF© provides a great framework for them to communicate the added value and social dividend that our business models create.”

The MVM Framework© and related materials and resources are protected by copyright and you must request permission to use MVMF ©. To find out more about the MVMF © and how your co-op or mutual could access the community or support, go to

Mutual Value Measurement Framework (MVMF) ©

Figure one: Mutual Value Measurement Framework (MVMF) ©

Think Impact has experience working with both Australian Unity and Common Equity Housing Limited. If you want to find out more about how Think Impact can support you to develop your Sustainability Reporting then contact Ross Wyatt at