How embedding purpose can help you future-proof your business

There is growing evidence that purpose-led organisations who make improvements to their social and environmental performance are realising business benefits as a result. But even as the power of purpose becomes more understood, businesses often struggle to take it from idea to action. For a business to harness the power of purpose, it must first embed purpose into the core values of the organisation. 

Brands like Patagonia, which have had purpose baked into their DNA since day one, often spring to mind when thinking about purpose. The truth is, any business can act responsibly and with purpose, while undertaking normal everyday business priorities.

The benefits of doing business with purpose

What benefits will purpose bring to your business?

  • Attract and retain talent. 70% of employees now demand purposeful work. According to a 2021 McKinsey study, these purpose-driven employees are six times more likely to stay at the company.
  • Respond to consumer demand. 76% of people think businesses should have a legal responsibility to the planet and people, alongside maximising profits. A joint study from McKinsey and NielsenIQ found that products that make ESG-related claims have achieved disproportionate growth.
  • Attract investors. More investors are taking purposeful agendas and ESG into account when making investment decisions. An Interbrand study found that purposeful brands set on improving our quality of life outperform the stock market by 120%.
  • Increased company resilience. Businesses acting with purpose are proven to be more resilient, with solid ESG practices resulting in better operational performance.
  • Leave a legacy. The 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer Global Report revealed that 89% of people believe CEOs should take a public stand on the treatment of employees and 82% believe CEOs should take a public stand on climate change. For CEOs, building a company that makes a positive difference is vital to leaving a legacy that survives. 

Top tips to successfully embed purpose into your organisation

1) Provide sufficient resources for your purpose agenda

Make sure your team has the tools to properly embed responsible values. Team training, allocated resources and time can be formally given, to show that acting with purpose is an essential part of each individual’s role.

When Sipsmith’s purpose agenda was tied to achieving B Corp certification, they assembled an interdepartmental team, named ‘Kaizen’, to lead and unify the certification effort. Since attaining B Corp Certification, Sipsmith has introduced ‘Kaizen 2.0’, a new team focused on continuous improvement by keeping purpose top of mind.

2) Track your performance

Build in different ways to keep track of your performance. As a company, put these values into your company scorecard. For individuals, introduce purpose-driven goals into performance reviews and bonuses. By creating various ways to hold everyone to account, you reiterate to your team that they are expected to prioritise purpose. 

At innocent drinks, everyone helps contribute to being a force for good. The company created four purpose-driven roles – agitator, ambassador, activator and protector – and each team member adds one role to their objectives for the year.

3) Celebrate your purposeful achievements

Share your progress and celebrate your achievements. Transparency is important – don’t just wait until you’ve reached your goal to communicate it. This not only ensures that everyone in your organisation is engaged in the process, but it also acknowledges that acting with purpose is about progress and constant growth.

In each edition of the annual Impact Report from Lily’s Kitchen, the company celebrates the past year’s successes. But even more, they maintain transparency by revisiting what they set out to accomplish within the year, how they performed and their goals for the upcoming year, continuing a cycle of accountability and transparency.

4) Look to existing tools and frameworks for support

Set targets and goals using existing frameworks, like aligning your goals with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), or setting Science Based Targets with a clear roadmap of how to reach them.

Another excellent framework is the B Impact Assessment (BIA) – a free online tool for businesses seeking B Corp Certification that can also be used as a framework to improve your impact. The BIA gives you a way to identify what you could and should be measured as a business, and how you can do it. 

To embed purpose, and successfully move it from idea to action, companies need a clear plan and a strong commitment from all levels. Given the benefits of truly embedded purpose, companies who start their journey today will be future-proofing their business, assuring greater successes tomorrow.

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