Social Purpose – Whats Yours?

wider purpose of business

Social Purpose is becoming a real differentiator in the marketplace, especially for consumer facing companies.

This is about what you do in (and through) your business, to be of highest service to the greater good. The ‘bigger why’ question.

Its about consciously and openly providing benefits to others, through a shared success business model. The more successful the business becomes, the more benefits those in need receive.

Its also about changing the culture and nature of business in the future.

Nothing New?

So whats this got to do with your business?

Even in the 90’s, EFQM Business Excellence Models that emerged, alongside quality improvement initiatives, included ‘Impact on Society’ as a measured and valued criteria.

Many businesses at that time saw this as a ‘nice to have’ and ‘bolt on extra’. The real focus and priority being business performance, customer satisfaction and to some degree employee satisfaction.

Whats changing nowadays is the force of conscious buying power and a demand for more ethical and eco driven business models.

The Higher Purpose of Business

If businesses are not clearly in touch with a higher purpose beyond making money for shareholders, being highly profitable, and high PE Ratio’s, then some industry leaders are saying they will rapidly become obsolete…

“Business can be the most powerful agent for change, and if business doesn’t change, then I think we are all doomed. Business that puts profit above people and the environment is not going to be a healthy and sustainable way for us to live and for the planet to survive.” (Source: Rose Marcario, CEO Patagonia)

Consumers are becoming much more savvy and selective about where and how they shop. They don’t like companies who dodge paying taxes or damage the environment and will go elsewhere.

There is a growing unrest about how businesses seemingly ignore social and cultural factors in their local communities and pursue globalisation strategies, like using low cost providers, in countries where workers are treated like slaves.

Business Ethics and Evolution

As the market place has become more conscious, with critical information widely circulated on the internet, the mis-match of espoused values and real values of companies, becomes much more easily recognisable.

In this changing and transparent trading environment, ‘The Big Why’ questions become essential to explore and clarify.

Perhaps the evolution and sustainability of your business relies on these strategic explorations and engagements. But how aware are you of these factors?

Checklist for Business Social Purpose Impacts

If this issue has any resonance with you, try considering how these questions fit in your own business strategy world…

  1. How and where does your business make a positive contribution to life on this planet?
  2. Where does your business hurt others, or squander natural resources?
  3. What can you do to help others in need, through your business success?
  4. If money no longer existed, why would you still be in business?
  5. What would make your company truly great, in the eyes of both stakeholders and everyday people?

These questions can also be applied to companies, big and small, as well as project teams.

Consequences and Opportunities

Business social purpose exploration, provides an opportunity for forward thinking business people, to create a new and more holistic change agenda, based around higher values and shared success.

Ignoring these major shifts of awakening social consciousness, will only serve to accelerate the demise of companies and corporations, who heads remain firmly planted in the sand.

Even simply considered as an employee engagement enabler, there are many benefits to be realised.

Increasingly finding top talent that stays loyal, can be achieved by offering the opportunity to work as part of something bigger, that creates a positive footprint in the world. After all, top talent can go anywhere. Where would you go?

Perhaps creating a new Social Purpose Agenda, boils down to a matter of ‘doing the right thing, regardless’.

And finally…

What can you do today, to create a higher social purpose, that brings everyone together around your enterprise?

Nick Le Clere is a strategic change consultant and facilitator, executive leadership coach, trainer, innovator and speaker, running online webinars and learning events for conscious business leaders of the future.
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