All businesses create and achieve purpose for shareholders, employees and society. Purpose for a shareholder is increasing financial returns; for employees it is engagement and a sense of achievement; and for society, it is about community.
These purposes while diverse, do not operate in isolation. By integrating social impact into a company’s strategy a business can generate profit for purpose. Purpose is not simply philanthropy or volunteering; it is a source of competitive advantage
“There is growing agreement among business leaders that being perceived to be a good corporate citizen is not enough,” said Petrina Fraccaro, CEO Cystic Fibrosis Queensland.
“Purpose needs to be embedded into strategic plan. Customers are seeking a tangible, lived experience of a business purpose which ultimately adds value to their perception of the quality of the goods and services produced by a business”.
“Purpose is discussed at the Board level and with the leadership team when creating and setting strategy. It needs to be more than that. It affects hiring practices, suppliers, company culture and staff management and of course, marketing and communication,” she said
Purpose creates advantage internally by aligning employee and company values. Conversations about purpose take place at recruitment, on-boarding staff, team meetings, when setting employee key performance indicators and at annual review time. Purpose also attracts, empowers and inspires employees, both current and potential clients, customers, suppliers and business partners.
“A purpose needs to be authentic and a once-off smick marketing campaign is not going to cut it. People have been marketed by feel good brands for too long and for too often. Your purpose needs to engage the skeptics and win over the nay-sayers” said Petrina.
So how do you support profit by embed purpose into your strategy?
“It all starts with a conversation. The Board and leadership team need to be in agreement as to the culture. This agreement then allows for managers to make the right decisions and this in turn trickles down to frontline employees, clients, customers, suppliers and business partners” she said.
This strong sense of purpose provides consistency and continuity in decision making at all levels of the business – greatly improving employee engagement, driving outcomes and ultimately – profit!