Nearly all companies “say” they have a purpose.
But do they?
The research that follows shows that certain companies take their purpose significantly more seriously than the rest of the pack. A growing number are so focused in their efforts that almost without exception, key stakeholders such as workers, managers and customers are intimately familiar with the organization’s purpose. The purpose is so clear and so compellingly articulated that people both inside and outside of the company understand it and offer buy-in, and the host company reaps the rewards.
But achieving such a state involves much more than merely expressing purpose. To succeed, purpose must be authentic, deeply ingrained and integrated. Mere slogans and marketing campaigns will not achieve the desired results. Real purpose must begin by guiding corporate strategy, and from there, execution must attain complete alignment. To be truly activated, purpose must inform and drive day-to-day actions. Throughout the enterprise, the workforce must feel empowered to make decisions based on purpose.
Getting there requires constant communication and reinforcement of purpose. Performance evaluation and even compensation, bonuses and recognition/award programs must fortify the premise of purpose. Leaders say that capably executed, purpose delivers benefits ranging from stronger sales to greater customer loyalty and employee engagement.
The research also reveals that for chief marketing officers (CMOs), purpose is becoming a critical priority, reaching the “top two” list at 79% of companies. And by no means is the path forward an easy one. Indeed, this fast-evolving role requires the CMO to lead or influence a wide range of functions and activities ranging from product development, to logistics, sourcing, HR and even M&A.
So does your company have a purpose? Is that purpose clearly articulated and activated? Are you deriving all of the value there is to be found in commitment to purpose? How can you improve your purpose-driven results? Though it will remain for each company to find its own answers, we believe the report that follows can provide valuable guidance.
- Bruce Rogers, Chief Insights Officer, Forbes Insights
Purpose is not a mission statement or a marketing slogan
It's an aspirational “reason for being”
Companies bring their purpose to life through:
- Articulation,the clear expression of why this business is in business
- Activation, tangible practices making purpose real for decision-makers, the workforce, customers and all related stakeholders
Some companies are more “purposeful” (purpose-driven) than others: 29% say purpose is of primary importance.
The insights and commentary found in this report are derived from both a survey and qualitative interviews. Partnering with EY, Forbes Insights conducted a global survey of 217 executives. Key demographics from this fall 2015 research include:
- Title: CEO (26%), CMO (22%), SVP/VP (17%), managing director (8%), COO (6%), EVP (6%), president (5%), CIO/CTO (4%), other C-suite (6%)
- Location: North America (30%), Asia/Pacific Rim (30%), Western Europe (29%), Central/South America (10%)
- Annual sales: $5 billion or more (20%), $1 billion to $4.9 billion (51%), $500 million to $999 million (29%)
- Industry: consumer products/retail (20%), banking and capital markets (13%); telecommunications (11%); diversified industrial products (7%); health care (6%); insurance (6%); technology (5%); oil and gas (5%); private equity (5%); real estate, hospitality, construction (5%); wealth and asset management (5%); mining and metals (4%); other (8%)