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What is Corporate Purpose?

Recently, I’ve been contemplating the following question: what is corporate purpose?

During this time, I caught up with a friend and former colleague, and we were discussing employee engagement. He used the term “seismic shift.” That really stayed with me. When I think about what seismic shift means in our world, I think about all of the disruption in our business & personal lives over the past 2 years.

The pandemic has kept people from loved ones. It has kept us from the workplace, and even eliminated much of our socialization with others.  Further the events & issues facing our country and world. A few have been on my mind — Social Justice, Diversity & Inclusion, and Climate Change are also top of mind for most companies more than ever before.

In this blog, we wanted to focus on what corporate purpose means and how it impacts your bottom line.  Perhaps most importantly, we wanted to focus on why do your employees play such an integral role in defining company purpose.  

The Current Situation

With the Great Resignation, employees are resigning in record numbers and seeking opportunities with “purpose driven” companies.  In our recent blog, we shared the following stats: November 2021 represented an all-time high of 3% or 4.5 million resignations, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Many are suggesting that the Great Resignation may be more aptly named “The Great Re-evaluation.” Employers are identifying what’s really important to their employees. Surprise, it’s not just paySmartBrief’s Forget the Great Resignation, this is the Great Re-Evaluation, conducted research on why employees left their jobs.  Though the results were not shocking, they were a bit surprising.  While pay was at the top of the list, close on its heels were:

  • Less stress
  • Better work / life balance
  • Changes in priorities!  

Further, the Forbes article How CFOs Can Turn the Great Resignation into the Great Re-Evaluation mentions: While this time of high turnover is frustrating, it also represents an opportunity for companies to reevaluate their current practices and make changes to help insulate themselves against losing top performers. The time is ripe to be an organization that top talent migrates toward, not away from.

Employers take note, IT IS AN EMPLOYEE’S MARKET, and your company’s purpose is playing a key role.  The bottom line is that companies need to either create or further their Corporate Purpose. Employers need to think about how to define business purpose. 

In this blog, we will focus on what corporate purpose means and how it impacts your bottom line.  But perhaps most importantly, why do your employees play such an integral role in defining your company’s purpose?


What is Corporate Purpose?

Starting off, let’s define purpose.  The reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.

Now, combine that with the corporate. It’s so important for each team to define corporate purpose. If your team does not have a written purpose statement, it’s a good time to revisit. There is no lack of research on corporate purpose, so look to examples of corporate purpose when reviewing yours!

Raj Sisodia, author of Conscious Capitalism and FW Olin Distinguished Professor of Global Business states: Purpose should impact every aspect of the firm. Further, In Harvard Business Review’s What Is the Purpose of your Purpose, “purpose” is used in three senses: 

  • Competence (“the function that our product serves”); such as Mercedes’s “First Move the World”
  • Culture (“the intent with which we run our business”) i.e.Zappos’s “To Live and Deliver WOW
  • Cause (“the social good to which we aspire”). Patagonia’s “in business to save our home planet”

Moreover, Ranjay Gulati, professor at Harvard Business School  & author of the recently published Book Deep Purpose: The Heart and Soul of High-Performance Companies, mentions 3 Types of purpose: 

  • Life purpose
  • Career purpose
  • Job purpose


Why Corporate Purpose is Important

As we first think about what purpose is, it’s reasonable to ask: Why is Corporate Purpose Important?  First, we can look at Fast Company’s aptly named article,  2022 Will Be the Great Reckoning for Corporate Purpose includes a plethora of nuggets; and a few jumped out:  

Employees are leaving companies not aligned with their values for others that offer a greater sense of purpose, consumers are boycotting brands whose values differ from theirs, and investors are shifting assets to companies that demonstrate long-term ESG commitments.   

It goes on to say Those organizations without a clear purpose are already behind—and can expect to face a “great reckoning” of their own in the year ahead. Be sure to change that for your organization. You can start thinking about what is a good purpose statement for my company. How can I incorporate our values and be sure that employees resonate with our values?

Remember, your company’s purpose can actually impact your bottom line. Buyers, whether B2C or B2B, want to do business with companies that have a stated purpose.  So it should be no surprise that 52% of purpose-driven companies experienced over 10% growth compared with 42% of non-purpose-driven companies.  Harvard Business Review The Business Case for Purpose.

Your team will thank your for revisiting a good purpose statement. Be sure your corporate purpose connects with employees and customers!


Why Are Your Employees the Key to Your Company’s Purpose?

While all stakeholders are important, employees’ importance has increased exponentially over the past year.  They should factor into just about every business decision your company makes. Employees want their companies to succeed for different reasons, but the desire is even stronger with purpose-driven companies. A purpose driven company can help to create advocates, improve your organization’s culture, and help to drive your company’s performance!

All current and future employees want to be a part of a company that stands for something.  SmartBrief’s The Importance of Purpose to Company Success 

We all want to be part of something bigger than ourselves at some point, something that we’re proud to be associated with. A purpose driven company can provide that relationship.

Not only does The Great Re-evaluation pertain to a company, employees are also experiencing this. They are having epiphanies as it pertains to their personal goals, lives & careers.  An HR Executive article states:  Employees are taking ownership over what they want from their careers, where and when they want to work, how they want their personal goals and professional purpose to align; ultimately, she says, it’s their “Great Reevaluation. Two additional articles state:

Your employees can be your biggest champions!  They can and will share all of the wonderful things your company is doing!  Last week – after the invasion in Ukraine – the Selflessly team sent an email to our customers. We linked to a page to donate to nonprofits that will help the people in Ukraine. 


Take your Corporate Purpose to the Next Level with Selflessly

Your company has plenty of daily challenges!  With Selflessly, your corporate purpose doesn’t have to be one of them. Our unique platform helps companies develop a purpose-driven culture with an easy tool that allows employees to track their giving, coordinate efforts, celebrate all the great work your team is doing, and generate actionable data to share the results.

If you’re ready to breathe new life into your corporate social responsibility, drop us a note—we’d love to chat!

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