This is a question we've been asking ourselves of late. Is, in fact, purpose losing its purpose as ‘it’ becomes overused?
Without doubt, it can be an ill-defined term resulting in being a catch-all for any good deed that people roll their eyes at. Company leadership teams, employees, clients and partners are right to ask what is a purpose-driven company in reality?
A quick reminder then! A purpose-driven company stands for and acts on something bigger than its products and services. It’s an aspirational reason for being, beyond profits alone. Purpose is integrated into strategy, goals and innovation across the entire company.
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said “Companies can do more than just make money; they can serve others. The business of business is improving the state of the world.” Their Pledge 1% model inspired many other Silicon Valley companies to follow.
Businesses, whatever their size or sector, can be a force for good. In fact, global business leaders in charge of the biggest brands now put social values front and centre of their mission and objectives. What was once a domain of smaller independents is now recognised as a force for good whatever size company.
But to truly demonstrate purpose, it can’t just be a few words in mission statements or company objectives; businesses need to demonstrate ongoing, strategic action.
Becoming B Corp certified is one way to drive your purpose into action. It signals your commitment to social and environmental responsibility whilst being transparent and responsible. And it ensures you meet specific legal accountability standards that make your commitments to purpose and stakeholder interests legally binding. It also ensures you know what you are signing up to, for the long-term gain for all versus the short-term bandwagon for you.
As an aside, we’re not saying that profit is bad – businesses need to be profitable to then support their purpose - but how you use that profit is key. If you’re only using it to line the pockets of shareholders then you’re not a purpose driven business.
Of course, purpose is nothing new; but new ways of realising profits are becoming more popular, and particularly due to the growth in Environment, Social and Governance investing.
The climate change emergency, alongside inequality, exploitation and cost of living, has meant purpose is no longer a thought left for those hovering at the edge of business circles too shy to speak out.
We see investment and innovation in driving corporate social responsibility forward in bigger leaps then where we were 15 years ago.
And that means, unashamedly (thankfully), purpose is now mainstream with the purpose mythology a reality and a very common conversation.
We are here for it. What about you?