Over the past few years, a number of organisations have conducted research into the growing business case for ‘purpose’, including Ernst & Young, Deloitte, Harvard and Oxford Business School. Their research demonstrates that businesses who are pursuing the achievement of ‘purpose’ have more competitive advantage, increased customer loyalty, greater employee engagement and better agility when it comes to innovation.
What is ‘purpose’ in business?
Purpose in business, as defined by the Harvard Business Review is “an aspirational reason for being which inspires and provides a call to action for an organisation and its partners and stakeholders and provides benefit to local and global society”.
A for-purpose business does exactly that: provides benefit to local and global society. These benefits can be economic, social and / or environmental. Achieving purpose is just one part of the journey towards sustainability.
Here are some easy steps you can follow to become a for-purpose business.
To become a for-purpose business, the first step is to identify the core values of your business. These values might be focused more on your business’ social contributions or might be focused on your business’ environmental contributions to the local society. Other businesses may choose to make more of a contribution to global society than local society. This value identification is the most important step and shouldn’t be rushed. It can beneficial to consult with key stakeholders, including consumers and staff, to find out what they believe are the core values of your business.
Make a plan
Once values have been identified, it is time to make a plan. How will you achieve these values? For example, if your business is committed to protecting endangered species, how will you ensure that your supply chain does not use any products to put the protection of endangered species in question. During the planning phase, it is also vital that you consider what targets you want to set both in the short- and long-term to ensure your business achieves purpose. Using the example of the endangered species, a business may set a target for 50% of the supply chain in 12 months, 60% in 24 months, 80% in 5 years and 100% in 10 years. A series of targets like this makes your purpose more concrete, not just a collection of words on your website. Setting targets is also important to the final step of achieving purpose — tracking a measuring progress.
Work with staff
It is vital that your staff is on board with your business’ purpose. Your staff needs to have an in-depth understanding of your commitment as it is important that team members are able to communicate your purpose to customers and clients and act accordingly to your policies.
For-purpose businesses only benefit from competitive advantage if they are communicating their steps towards achieving purpose to their customer base. If you want to find out more information about communication, have a read of our article on communicating sustainability for the benefit of your business.
Track and measure progress
The final step towards achieving purpose is to track and measure your progress. Saying your business has set-out to achieve certain goals is one thing; putting actions in place to actually achieve these goals is another. Customers want to know that your business is doing what you have said you would achieve. Make sure you are able to share positive progress stories to this effect.
If you need further guidance in achieving purpose in your business, contact us today!