Extensive research has highlighted the benefits of being a purpose-led business, demonstrating how it leads to higher levels of growth and resilience to disruption.1,2 However, beyond the compelling business case, the expectations and priorities of employees and prospective talent pools have shifted and there is an increased demand for organisations to provide more meaningful work. This is supported by our data, which showed that 84% of employees feel it’s ‘very important’ or ‘important’ to work for an organisation that positively impacts society, demonstrating the critical role purpose will play in attracting and retaining talent.
This shift towards being more purpose-led is also mirrored by customers and investors. 72% of consumers feel it is more important than ever to buy from companies that reflect their values,3 and 88% of institutional investors claimed to hold an organisation’s ESG metrics to the same level of scrutiny as financial and operational reports.4 However, despite this, purpose-led transformation for many organisations remains surface-level. Our survey found that 71% of employees think their leaders still ‘always’ or ‘often’ make critical decisions solely based on financial considerations, such as profit, costs and growth.
Pitfalls of purpose-led transformation
Being purpose-led requires much more than a great purpose statement. To become truly purpose-led, organisations require tangible action to accompany their declared intent. However, with companies increasingly being recognised as proactive drivers of global change, a common pitfall is failing to deliver this authentically. This so-called ‘say-do’ gap can lead to a disconnect between the articulated purpose and day-to-day lived experience. For example, our survey highlighted that 86% of employees say their organisation has a purpose statement, but almost half (42%) of them didn’t know what it was. Leaders play a critical role in not only stating purpose ambitions, but also in following through with action.