How the C-Suite Should Think About Purpose in 2023
Purpose is the driving force behind a business' new products, services, its culture, and even its productivity. How should the C-suite engage?
In 2023, it is widely acknowledged that having a clear sense of purpose is essential for business success. As it can better align resources and activities to achieve that purpose, this focus can lead to breakthrough innovations and new opportunities for growth. In order to (re)identify purpose in a business, C-suite leaders need to ask themselves why their company exists and what role, responsibility and/or value it provides within and for the wider society. A clear purpose can help to integrate company culture internally and reflect it externally to society. And a happier, purpose-driven culture, makes for a more productive organisation.
In this article, we'll discuss how C-suite leaders can embed purpose into their companies to drive success to make a positive impact, based on what we have learned from the wider HotTopics leaders community.
Challenges to purpose
There are many benefits to being a purpose-driven company but the majority of companies find it difficult to clearly establish and execute that purpose. The challenges they face may differ, but they often revolve around two primary barriers: losing sight of their purpose or struggling to align their purpose with their business goals. Here are the key reasons why these challenges are significant:
- Short-term performance targets often come at the cost of neglecting long-term goals and a long vision for the company.
- Internal culture can be a major obstacle to adopting a brand purpose and implementing new strategies. Establishing a culture of openness and empowerment is crucial for companies to become purpose-driven, but it can be challenging in a rigid workplace.
- Traditional metrics may not capture the full value of long-term efforts. Most measurement systems tend to focus solely on financial metrics.
- A purpose-driven approach requires a culture of openness, where people are empowered to make decisions that align with the company's goals and values.
- One of the biggest challenges to becoming purpose-driven is getting buy-in across the entire organisation, as insufficient support from stakeholders can doom these efforts to failure.
For a successful purpose to spread through a company and be successfully adopted, all levels of the company must be engaged, from the CEO or owner, down through senior stakeholders and staff. A shared motivation for the company's purpose is essential for it to succeed.
The benefits of purpose-driven business
Notwithstanding these challenges, the advantages of embedded purpose into a company's culture and strategy are noteworthy. Below are some of the key benefits of being a purpose-driven organisation:
- Increased employee engagement and satisfaction, when companies create a culture where each employee can feel they are part of something greater than themselves, it will encourage and motivate them to cooperate together to achieve the common purpose.
- Attract and retain top talent, employees can stay longer with driven purpose companies as they feel connected and passionate about what the company stands for.
- A positive company branding reputation which is closely linked to high value and can give the company a competitive edge in your niche market.
- Improved customer loyalty and brand advocacy, the majority of companies nowadays are incorporating sustainability into their company purpose, as a result when customers are satisfied with what the company stands for, they will act as valuable brand ambassadors and advocate for the business.
- Effective decision making, when the company is clear about the purpose, it will help employees to make a better decision which aligns with the business purpose.
How to integrate purpose
To effectively integrate purpose into your company as a leader, begin by considering their company’s mission and values. Ensure that each of your company’s pillars Including financial, human, social and environmental aspects are well- established and aligned with your overall company goals.
Here are some best practices for the C-suite to integrate purpose into their company's culture and strategy:
- Establish a clear and inspiring policy and purpose for your company that aligns with its value a mission
- Build a diversity culture that empowers employees to contribute to the company’s purpose and rewards their efforts
- Integrate purpose into every aspect of your company’s operations, including marketing, product development and customer service.
- Embed purpose into your leadership development programs to ensure that future leaders are aligned with the company's purpose and equipped to lead in a purpose-driven way.
- "Listen to feedback", that means actively seek input and opinions from your stakeholders, such as customers, employees and investors, and take their suggestions and concerns into consideration when making decisions for the company.
- “Keeping up with Industry trends” means to keep leaders updated on the latest developments and changes in the industry market and technology. This involves regularly researching and analysing industry trends, consumer preferences, emerging technologies and innovations that may impact your company's operations and strategy.
For example, Patagonia, the American clothing brand and retailer, is a great example of how a company can integrate purpose into their business strategy. First, it changed its mission in 2018 from “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm”, to “Inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” And recently, in September 2022, Patagonia transferred ownership of the privately held business to a series of nonprofits and specially designated Trust as the company hopes to inspire other businesses with a blueprint for evolving capitalism to help address their collective impact on the environment.
The purpose of a company serves as a north star, guiding its decisions and actions towards creating long-term value for its stakeholders. As consumers and employees alike are demanding more from the companies they work for, purpose is becoming increasingly important for businesses, as well as staying informed on global issues and trends.
Thinking creatively about how to respond to these issues is directly linked to a company’s purpose–this should demonstrate its commitment to creating value for its stakeholders which includes not only its customers and employees but also society and the environment. By staying aware of global issues and trends, a company can identify opportunities to create positive social and environmental impact and align its business operations with its purpose.
Learn more about HotTopics purpose
Are you intrigued by the meaningful work we're doing at HotTopics? We invite you to learn more about our purpose, our team, and how we are driving positive change in the tech industry and beyond, including our pioneering TechGirl initiative. Visit our About Us page to discover how we are connecting leaders, inspiring action, and shaping the future of the digital world. Learn More About HotTopics.
Join the community
To join the HotTopics Community and gain access to our exclusive content, events and networking opportunities simply fill in the form below.