Authors: Daphne Ewing-Chow
Image: Peter Ivey
“The purpose of an organization is different than Corporate Social Responsibility,” says Leadership Strategist, Dan Pontefract. “It ought to be thought of as how it provides its various services in totality. Why is it in business? Why does it serve its stakeholders? Stakeholders include the gamut of employees, customers, partners, community members, environment/planet and those seeking a fair, financial return.”
According to the Clutch report, social initiatives should be approached in a way that preserves the authenticity of the brand and industry. Global businesses should seek to make an international impact, while local businesses should work within the communities in which they operate. In other words— they should define their activities as a function of their company’s purpose as opposed to a distinct responsibility to “do good”.
Companies that are highly purpose-driven have been found to outperform the market by 5%–7% per year (growth and profitability), on par with companies that have top-notch governance and innovativeness. (Harvard Business Review) A survey conducted by Fransmart.com reveals that 45% of customers prefer to eat at restaurants with a social drive and Accenture confirms that 63% of global consumers prefer to purchase from a company that is aligned with a cause.
The well-publicized success of food service companies such as Ben and Jerry’s, Whole Foods and Campbell’s confirms Harvard Business Review Analytics’ and Ernst & Young’s Beacon Institute’s joint research findings that support purpose-driven performance.
Purpose does not mean one-off campaigns, public relations activities or regularly scheduled philanthropic donations. It is a permeating consciousness, a well-defined intention or as George Bernard Shaw would put it, “the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one.”