While many companies have been pushed to make business changes in the wave of the pandemic, there are some enterprises that have been pushing a change of their own – for a greater good.
Purpose-led companies, or purpose-driven companies, are not new. But as society places more focus on culture, impact, and business approaches that rise above profits, these companies are now receiving renewed attention.
A purpose-driven or purpose-led business commits their business goals to the benefit of the public, being accountable and putting what is right into practice.
In this article, we briefly study why purpose-driven goals matters for businesses in today’s economic climate and look into some of the companies that are currently working to create value for society.
The Rise of Purpose-Led Companies
The concept of purpose-led businesses has floated for some time, but lately, the conversations have increased.
With social media, community platforms and the multitude of news outlets, consumers and the society at large now has more access to information about how companies operate, source, and produce their products.
Through the democratised sharing of information, people are now able to learn and make more informed decisions about the products and services they use. They will frequent brands that supports worthy causes and addresses social and current issues, and choose those with principles that are more closely aligned to their own.
There is also growing talks among industry movers and shakers as well as academia about the sustainability issues that comes from the continuous quest for profit. Among the discussions were how the world’s natural resources are depleting faster than they can be reproduced, which are widening the gaps between the richer and poorer nations.
There is an understanding that purpose-led leaderships and business models are the way forward. While it is not quite at the finishing line, we are already seeing some sprinters who are ahead of the race.
Brands with Purpose
Purpose-led companies are not just about profitability; they steer their business decisions toward the greater good and measure their performance differently. They are also growing in numbers. There are many companies with a purpose to watch out for in 2022 and beyond.
Here we list a few companies that understand the fundamental shift in the role of corporations. These companies have been known to invest in their employees, deal ethically with their supplies, and protect the environment, boosting consumers’ confidence as they deliver their commitment through the products and services they offer.
Since its inception, Tesla has been known for its sustainable and clean energy initiatives manifested most popularly in the brand’s automobile line. Tesla’s mission statement is to accelerate the transition to sustainable energy, but with Elon Musk leading the brand, the company’s goal transcends the auto industry as they set out to change the world.
True to Tesla’s purpose-driven mission, the company was quick to respond during the pandemic. It opened its manufacturing space and repurpose its car parts to build ventilators for hospitals during the height of the Covid 19 pandemic.
Musk may court controversies and is often thrust in the limelight for them, but his expertise in guiding innovation and delivering the company’s commitments is not one to be discounted. This is also what makes Tesla a standout among other companies in the electric car manufacturing category.
The Cheeky Panda
An eco-friendly brand, the Cheeky Panda is known for weighing their success by the tons of carbon balanced and the number of trees saved. The company makes sustainable toilet paper, kitchen tissues and rolls, and baby wipes using bamboo – the world’s fastest-growing plant.
It all started when the founders travelled to South East Asia and noticed how much bamboo was discarded. Upon their return, they studied products made from bamboo. This resulted in a more sustainable alternative to pulp products.
The company products are available across Europe, China, the US, and the Middle East in retailers like Boots, Watsons, Amazon, and Carrefour. Its commitment to sustainability is evident in its impact on the environment. To date, the company has saved more than 250,000 trees and 31,100 tonnes of CO2, while reducing plastic by 10,000 tonnes.
Patagonia has been hailed as a paragon of brand purpose. This began with its owner, Yvon Chouinard, a former rock climber who remains as Patagonia's visionary in chief. In 2002, he pledged to donate 1% of its sales income or 10% of its profits (whichever is higher) every year to grassroots environmental charities.
Everything about the brand reflects Patagonia’s mission statement. From its core values, down to its repair and recycle campaigns (which encourages consumers to buy less) and using only organic suppliers. The company is also making effort in labour conditions with policies in place for its supply chain and productions.
The company is a proponent of brand activism. Patagonia exerts firm commitment to take a stand and practice high moral values.
For generations, both the young and old has enjoyed Lego for its fun and imaginative qualities, but the company’s switch to focus on purpose and sustainability was truly the building blocks that separates Lego as one of the most important brands on the planet.
Lego went in pursuit of purpose over profit, refocusing their core values and mission to make sustainable products and run environmentally-responsible operations with a higher purpose “to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow.” Lego has even went as far as to end a 50-year brand partnership with Shell as Lego’s environmental values no longer resonated with that of Shell’s.
In a big step to realise their purpose, Lego is investing $400 million to facilitate its social responsibility and environmental initiatives. One of these initiatives is to make all LEGO packaging from recycled or renewable materials. They are also committed to making all its core products from sustainable materials.
To cap this list, we have Starbucks. The coffee giant may not seem an obvious choice due to its high revenue source, but the company has purpose deeply embedded in their business operations, from recruitment, to sourcing and supply, and into the community in which they serve.
Among some of the worthy practices include putting its partners (baristas) through training and education programmes in preparation for corporate positions. When this campaign launched in the U.S. in 2014, there was a surge in applications for corporate roles, and this campaign was extended to the U.K for its success. On top of that, Starbucks also practices ethical coffee sourcing and has worked on supporting local farming initiatives via their regional arms across the world.
Purpose over profit
This list is a good place to start to learn of more purpose-driven brands, but there is definitely room for more businesses with a purpose-driven leadership that focuses on sustainability and accountability. The world will watch eagerly as more names will become a household brand in their pursuit for goodness.