This is perhaps one of the most vexing questions faced by businesses post-pandemic. The issue here is the high degree of subjectivity that may be applied in the interpretation of what a business thinks makes it purpose-driven and what their stakeholders believe would make it purpose-driven.
This isn’t necessarily an issue, after all, purpose and a business’s raison d'être are not binary affairs!
So, if we consider that businesses are traditionally seen as entities that exist to provide a product or service, purpose potentially becomes more about the ‘how’ than the ‘what’. Remember, all recent research on the subject suggests a growing number of consumers and entrepreneurs are embracing the idea that companies can be a lot more.
For me, purpose-driven organisations go much further than their role of offering a product or service. They develop initiatives that have a social or environmental impact that can be woven into the fabric of the business. This may be something that is done to activate a more motivated and engaged workforce, demands made by an evolving client and customer base, or even purely as a consequence of an owner or business leader’s philanthropic desires. It doesn’t matter which it is, they are all in some way, shape or form, linked to the business.
This is good, right? If regular businesses can act in some part like impact driven ventures and social enterprises, then it surely brings more meaning to what businesses do, and it’s an exciting trend to explore.
So, what sets purpose-driven companies apart from others?
All stakeholders have choice… whether they are members of your team, shareholders or your customers, they all have a choice. Such stakeholders know that the choices they make have an impact on their environment and community. According to recent research, at least 20% of such people are deeply interested in how a company treats the environment. This won’t have escaped you if stay across the news!
So, if this is a top issue for your external stakeholders and customers when choosing a business partner, and they really are exploring what a business does to support the community, shouldn’t you too?
How you go about this may be a deeply personal activity or it may be something you have ‘crowd sourced’ from your team or your customers and clients. However done, the key is to adapt to these new expectations by embracing social entrepreneurship. A purpose-driven model allows businesses to go beyond obvious service provision and into the realms of making a real difference through their decisions and strategies, or through their support of social and environmental activities.
Does it make a real difference?
Our starting point was to explore the desire by customers and team members to see such initiatives in play within the business. But what is the real difference that your stakeholders can expect?
In my personal experience, purpose really is central to our business success. It’s a key element we have used for differentiation, and it ultimately has allowed MBN to realise a transformative impact on growth rather than only achieving linear growth.
Our client listening activities and feedback tell us that clients and customers see that their relationship with us has real value because they are investing in what we do and how we make a difference. You only have to take a look at what we do each Christmas to see how well supported we are by our client base because they know that we are making a difference! For them, they get more satisfaction from choosing a partner with real meaning… real purpose.
But it’s not just about what our clients think. It’s really important to me that my team feel the same. We have invested real effort in building our team with people who share our beliefs. Believing and belonging are important for colleague satisfaction. As a consequence, we believe that purpose-driven businesses are better than others at creating a sense of community and attracting the very best talent.
So, what impact can you expect?
Expect some change, some need to focus in some different areas. For example, purpose-driven businesses often approach the employment proposition differently. Hiring is a step beyond simply finding people who can do their job, we found that we needed to look for people who were as passionate about making a difference as I am and as the rest of our team are. That way, we genuinely get the benefit of fresh thinking and drive from people like us who want to make a difference. This amplifies the effect and ensures we are able to be agile in our approach to keeping our purpose on point and relevant.
Creating a team of purpose-passionate people is only the beginning! It is a must that you explore other strategies purpose-driven businesses use to have an environmental or social impact. My ‘starter for ten’ approach is to look at those other businesses:
Well hopefully I’ve struck a chord. If I have, reach out and let me know what you think and what you plan on doing to join this fast-growing movement to make a difference. Finally, collaborate, collaborate, collaborate... with the team, with clients, with competitors and with anyone prepared to get involved.
Want to know more, drop me a line and I’ll gladly share what’s next for MBN with our plans for putting purpose on the map.
Michael Young - CEO @ MBN Solutions - firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael’s the boss. As our CEO he founded the company almost twenty years ago, wanting to revolutionise the way data and technology recruitment was done across the UK. He nailed it (if we say so ourselves) and continues to be a driving force in the UK’s data and tech communities. As MBN pushes out into the world Michael is augmenting his CEO role as an advisor to a number of start-ups, charities and third sector organisations. When he’s not doing that, he raises money for charity through endurance events.