Purpose positively pays: infographic

3 minute read

Businesses don’t thrive unless their ecosystems thrive, whether it be their infrastructure, supply chain, capital or talent. And right at the heart of this is purpose, but what exactly is it?

Sian Harrington

Choosing profit or purpose at the expense of the other is a false dichotomy. You can do both – and you should do both. However, most companies mistake purpose for a passing trend, forfeiting the chance to solve both social issues and business challenges.

Purpose is like Miracle-Gro for your company, say Virgin Unite chair Holly Branson, New York Times bestselling author and founder of WE Charity Craig Kielburger and founder of the ME to WE Social Enterprise Marc Kielburger. By uniting purpose and profit you can get an edge in business through increased employee engagement and retention, attracting young talent, building new products, differentiating established products and inspiring brand fanatics.

Branson and the Kielburgers have coined the term WEconomy to describe what they see as an emerging economic system where business works in the interest of the greatest good.

“Social purpose is the biggest thing to happen to business since the assembly line. All evidence points to the fact that workers and consumers respond to business that do good,” they say.

In their book, WEconomy: You can find meaning, make a living, and change the world, they point to today’s unprecedented access to information as enabling the WE Generation – people connected by the desire to make a difference regardless of generation or profession. This group want more meaning at work and expect companies to reflect their values. Those that do not adapt to these new motivations risk losing talent.

Drawing on their own experiences, together with case studies of organisations across the world, the authors show how companies implementing the triple bottom line – people, planet and purpose – have saved money, even in industries with razor-thin margins. They predict that, within a decade, purpose will sit alongside brand and people as the three most important principles guiding the launch of new companies and business models.

Building a people-first culture is core to success in the WEconomy, and this doesn’t mean beanbags, sleep pods or bring your dog to work. “Even the mighty teabag means nothing if your company is not build on a culture of mutual respect,” say the authors.

This is particularly important as the so-called Millennial generation will make up 75% of the global workforce within the next seven years and yet workforce generation scores among this generation were as low as 23% in 2016, according to Branson and the Kielburgers. This generation wants purpose, development, coaching and conversation.

But to start your purpose journey you need to understand what exactly is purpose. Here ThePeopleSpace draws on Virgin’s approach to outline what purpose is, and what it isn’t.


Purpose Dos and Don'ts

To discover more on purpose, including how to start writing your purpose statement, check out our PeopleSpaceLeaders practitioners community.

Published 11 July 2018. WEconomy by Holly Branson, Craig Kielburger and Marc Kielburger, is published by Wiley.

Even the mighty teabag means nothing if your company is not build on a culture of mutual respect

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