The Big A: Purpose and alignment enables, ennobles and enriches everyone
Now after there is no answer to the Why Q come the Where do we go from here and how do we deliver a sense of purpose across a wide range of environmental, social, and governance priorities?
This means moving from BaU (business as usual) to thinking outside the lines.
There are no easy answers as corporate engagement can be unplesant.
The power of purpose is evident as the world fights the urgent threat of the COVID-19 chaos, with many of companies 2Xing down on their purpose and benefits to society.
Business has an opportunity an obligation, to engage on the urgent needs of society, while not waiting for governments and NGOs to act on their own.
Now we are seeing the how emerging as a growing number of companies take the lead.
The August 2019 Business Roundtable statement spoke of the reappraisal of purpose and a reflection of tensions.
Customers are boycotting the products of companies whose values they view as contrary to their own.
Investors are migrating to ESG funds looking for decisions and behaviors that they can be proud to stand behind and gravitating toward companies that have a clear, unequivocal, and positive impact on the world.
Environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria are a set of standards for a company’s operations that socially conscious investors use to screen potential investments.
Environmental criteria consider how a company performs as a steward of nature.
Social criteria examine how it manages relationships with employees, suppliers, customers, and the communities where it operates.
Governance deals with a company’s leadership, executive pay, audits, internal controls, and shareholder rights.
Organizations turning a blind eye to this criteria will face blowback.
The potential is extraordinary for business to serve as a force for good. Corporate social responsibility initiatives remain a powerful force.
There is a disconnect between public perceptions of business and its potential for good, or between employees’ desire for meaning at work Vs what they experience, aka the purpose gap.
In a recent survey comprising a representative sample of more than 1,000 participants from US companies, 82% affirmed the importance of purpose, but only 42% reported that their company’s stated purpose had much effect. Many companies’ purpose statements are generic and do little to challenge BaU and many others do not emphasize the concerns of employees.
Contributing to society and creating meaningful work, the Top 2 priorities of employees in the survey, are the focus of just 21% and 11% of purpose statements, respectively.
Not surprising, as the reason why business leaders have struggled make coherent statements and credible actions is that it is difficult to purpose the interests of employees, communities, suppliers, the environment, customers, and shareholders all a once.
As senior executives work to align business and societal goals, to integrate that identity into the heart of the organization and to deliver on purpose, that includes measurement, management, and communication there are trade offs, and tensions.
What is needed is clear reflection on corporate identity, what the company stands for, things that lead to material changes in strategy and governance like such as the status as a private, public, or a public-benefit corporation.
According to Bruce W D Barren, Chairman of The EMCO/ Hanover Group, a very successful expert in business, “the Key is connecting the dots – the purpose with the heart of the company by evaluating strategy and operations that will drive the company forward to achieve shareholder goals while maintaining an equitable balance with its employees and its customers plus the public – both financially and socially, not just for the benefit of the insider shareholder and management.
That means leadership by developing a broad vision, inspiring and building trust with others including consumers, shareholders, employees and The Public, by finding common ground, and leading by example. Thus, giving to and living the organization’s purpose, the Team must fit together! This should be the vision of the New America that leads the World in creating the New Vision for Business.”
By embracing that truth the Leader brings alignment between people and the organization that enables, ennobles and enriches everyone.
Have a healthy weekend, Keep the Faith!