Defining a Purpose
“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction”
– John F Kennedy
“…public expectations of your company have never been greater. Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose. To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society. Companies must benefit all of their stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, and the communities in which they operate.
Without a sense of purpose, no company, either public or private, can achieve its full potential…”
What does he mean? Take a look at the cover of most annual reports and in many cases you will read “Realising shareholder value” or “Maximising shareholder returns”. These statements however are simply a measurement of a well-run business, not its purpose. The purpose of an organisation should be why it exists and the need it is meeting.
For example, responsible business at our widget company can be:
- Anticipating customers’ needs to ensure it is futureproofing its offering;
- Health & wellbeing and training & development of its employees to increase retention;
- Productivity and innovation to make it an attractive employer;
- Supply chain and production management to ensure the most cost-effective ways for sourcing and producing its widgets.
This should be complemented with environmental initiatives (such as reducing its carbon footprint and water usage, which also save money) and limiting its impact on society through volunteering and charitable work (which are nice things to do).
“Companies must ask themselves: What role do we play in the community? How are we managing our impact on the environment? Are we working to create a diverse workforce? Are we adapting to technological change? Are we providing the retraining and opportunities that our employees and our business will need to adjust to an increasingly automated world…?”
If an organisation understands why it exists then it is much easier for everyone else to understand why it exists and to communicate the benefits it brings.
If you make widgets or are thinking about looking at your corporate purpose or long-term strategy or would like to know more about responsible business and the positive effects it can have on your organisation, then please do not hesitate to get in touch. We would love to hear from you!