The importance of purpose

Posted 05 Dec 2019 by Will Cleare, Head of HR (Europe), The Myers-Briggs Company

To mark our first anniversary of becoming a B Corp™ we held a roundtable about the value of purpose-driven business.

The ethos behind being B Corp accredited is that it creates a focus on more than profit alone. But how does having this sense of purpose help businesses?

Joining me in the discussion were 

Why is purpose important? 

Catherine Allen put it best when she explained that if you want someone to be engaged, you need to give them something to be engaged in. 

“You can’t expect employees to be satisfied with their job if their work has no meaning. If your employees don’t care about their job, what standard of work can you expect?”

And, as Jeannie Boyle pointed out, if the business objective is just to make a faceless shareholder richer, you’re not going to want to give your all to your work.

Creating a focus to drive business forward

The B Corp assessment procedure was rigorous yet empowering, forcing us to consider the impact of our decisions on all of our stakeholders - our staff, our customers, our suppliers, our community, and the environment. 
 
Defining company goals and objectives is a great way to engage employees, and this process challenged us to not only clarify our own purpose, but also how we match organisational purpose with individual purpose. 

Employees want to feel part of something bigger

A great example of how being a B Corp has engaged the team at The Myers-Briggs Company can be seen in our volunteer programme:
 

We’ve found that people are not only seizing these opportunities to go out and make a difference. It’s been amazing to see everyone showing personal interest and investment in both their colleagues and the community.

Employee engagement is evolving

This ties in perfectly with a key point made by Kate Sandle, who highlighted that the B Corp mission is to ensure that from top to bottom, companies understand that everybody has an important role, and everyone is affected by every decision made. 

For me, this is indicative of how far the concept of employee engagement has evolved in the last few decades. Fifteen years ago, engagement was just a buzzword. Management would run an annual survey, and then see if the results could be improved upon the following year. 

That was it. 

Now, engagement has become much more transformative and integrated, and the growth of the B Corp movement exemplifies that evolution.

More businesses are waking up to the importance of purpose

In the past four months 26 new B Corps have achieved certification in the UK.  
 
And it’s not just in the UK that B Corp values are striking a chord – just look at this year’s Business Roundtable. In August, the heads of the largest companies in the US came together to modify the official definition of a corporation’s purpose, dropping the shareholder-first principle. From my perspective, such acceptance that businesses must aim to improve the world around them is a huge step forward. 

Business stability now depends on more than profit alone

Everyone at our roundtable discussion truly felt like a groundswell is in motion regarding purpose and business. 

The current wave of environmental protests and calls to declare a climate emergency show us that business’ relentless focus on profit isn’t seen as being beneficial for the future of the planet. 

We believe that reconsidering business purpose is the first step towards resolving this crisis.

How can you be a part of the movement?

We see and hear about many companies who are doing all the right things to be a B Corp, but not taking the next step to becoming accredited and joining a like-minded community.

Read more about our journey, or head straight to B Corporation Certification page to find out how you can be part of this fantastic movement.

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