Discover the power of purpose

06 May 2020

Company worth has been traditionally been measured through its financial results. But the COVID-19 pandemic is driving businesses to re-evaluate their company purpose. Now businesses are being forced to rethink their role in society and how to create value for all beyond the bottom line.

The definition of company purpose is “A company’s philosophical heartbeat and reason for existing, beyond financial gain.”

Purpose is more intangible than values, or the core principles, ethics and behaviours a company and its employees will agree to abide by at all times.

Company purpose engages the heart rather than the head, inspiring staff to do good work that impacts way beyond the lives of customers and into wider society.

But being a purpose-driven company isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the right thing to do for business.

Purpose-driven companies have been shown to outperform their peers over the long term, according to Deloitte’s Purpose 2030 report. Purpose-driven companies witness higher market share gains and grow three times faster on average than their competitors. Hiring and retention numbers are higher in purpose-driven companies.

A powerful purpose is:

  • Authentic – lived through the actions of the business
  • Real – about what you do as well as how you do it
  • Practical – finds solutions to stakeholder challenges, has open dialogue and strong partnerships
  • Consistent – endures well into the future and transcends corporate changes
  • Sustainable – maintains balance between short term imperatives and longer-term external commitments, such as linking them to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Examples of powerful company purposes are:

  • To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy – Tesla
  • To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time – Starbucks
  • A computer on every desk on every home – Microsoft

Re-assessing your company purpose will ensure it’s fit for a COVID-19 world.

Stress-test your company purpose using the following questions:

  • Why do we choose to exist, beyond financial gain?
  • Is our purpose true for all employees, as well as the organisation as a whole?
  • How is our purpose helping your business respond to the COVID-19 crisis?
  • How is our purpose sustainable over the long term?
  • What kind of business would we like to be once the COVID-19 crisis has passed?

Start with the impact and cause, rather than yourself.

Purpose-driven companies can provide effective and appropriate support when they have a clear understanding the impact they can make.

Many businesses are responding to the immediate crisis through purposeful acts and pledges. People want to see well thought-through action that makes a real difference, rather than a publicity stunt.

Louis Vuitton reopened a number of production sites to help manufacture up to 100,000 masks and hospital gowns a week for front-line medical staff.

Sticks to your strengths.

Purpose-driven companies ask what the need is, then use their expertise or products to provide it, rather than the other way round.

Belgium-based brewer AB InBev produced 50,000 litres of ready-to-use disinfectant alcohol for European hospitals, using the surplus alcohol from its alcohol-free beers.

Work in partnership.

Purpose-driven companies bring together key strengths across sectors.

Consumer goods giant Unilever committed €100m to curtail the spread of coronavirus through the donation of soap, sanitizer, bleach and food.

Does your company need to re-examine its purpose? We can help.

106 Communications is an award-winning communications consultancy on a mission to making work better. We create communications to engage and inspire through our three expert-led practises in Internal Communications, Change Communications and Branding & Marketing. Contact Henry at


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