Without purpose, there is no mission.
By Natalie Amezcua, a humane educator living in China with a background in solutionary education and activism.
Identifying your authentic corporate purpose is essential for obtaining a social goal and identity. Consequently, generating a positive social impact is essential in grounding your corporate business in its community.
A purpose requires a clear understanding of what the business is doing now with clear ideas of what it plans to do next and then the future. A purpose offers consumers and partners an understanding of not only how the corporate runs but why it exists in the first place; emanating an identity, beliefs, and overall missions that are reflected in its product and encored within the community for which it serves.
A corporate business, in whatever field, needs to acquire revenue to stay afloat. A business that focuses on revenue-oriented goals alone can easily lose sight of its purpose and go astray when burdened with social climates that are detrimental to those financial goals. Corporate purposes function as a template to aid in direction and determine a path it must follow to stay true to its purpose. Why does it exist? That thinking should never leave the forefront of any transaction, business plan, and partnership.
A corporate purpose that is built through honesty and transparency both internally and externally holds trust from its consumers. Trust is a brand's license to operate. Without the trust from your employees; partners and consumers alike, a corporation’s purpose and mission may struggle to gain momentum and fail to succeed in a time when loyalty and commitment from its consumers and followers are necessary.
But how do you go about gaining trust in a world that is revenue-goal oriented?
It’s difficult to imagine that a for-profit corporation can collectively be in tune with its financial goals as well as the needs of the social climate. Key terms like sustainability, cradle to cradle, eco-friendly, ethically made and the likes are becoming more and more popular, contributing to a large shift in consumer mindset towards more consciously made products and services. As a corporate business, it is important to be in tune with social climates such as these and alter your purpose to include the very things that are important to not only consumers but the planet as well.
According to a Nielsen sustainability study in 2019, 81% of global participants “felt strongly that companies should help improve the environment”. With power comes responsibility, specifically social responsibility. The term Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR highlights the key components to holding corporations socially accountable to not only themselves and their purpose but to stakeholders, employees, and consumers alike. Among them, sincerity, ethics, and sustainability prove to be the most difficult to obtain or the easiest to put aside when plans or goals go south.
Considering the “Most Good, Least Harm” principle when building your corporate purpose is a great way of establishing dos and don’ts in any business. MOGO, a term coined by educator and author of Most Good Least Harm: A Simple Principle for a Better World and Meaningful Life, Zoe Weil, highlights a concept that focuses on conscious consumer mindsets and acknowledging the true cost of products such as considering production costs, human rights, animal welfare and environmental damage that is tied to a product.
The urgency of the climate catastrophe is raising awareness of harmful substances and wasteful products that are detrimental to our planet. It is now of crucial importance for a corporation to align its purpose to meet the demand and reflect the culture of sustainability. Sustainability isn’t a trend that corporations can side-step for long. As consumers voice their concerns and vote with their dollars, government regulations will inevitably force businesses to follow suit onto sustainable practices.
Lagôm Planet, China’s first zero-waste enterprise states, “With 7.5 Billion in the world and growing fast, gone are the days that we can have ‘business as usual’.” Change is well underway and corporations of every sector must make the necessary changes to include their responsibility in contributing positively to the state of our planet.
Considering the current social, political and environmental climate of the planet, vulnerability to catastrophes pose threats to the stability of any business. In cases such as these, corporations may depend highly on consumer loyalty to the product it offers and the purpose it aspires to be true to. Climates can change and alter consumer participation, but ideologies remain true and are less likely to fluctuate. With the recent pandemic, thousands of businesses globally were unable to stay afloat. According to a US economic study conducted by Yelp, nearly 100,000 businesses were permanently shut down due to the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
When beginning to build your authentic corporate purpose, inviting your executives and frontline employees to share their thoughts, pride, and goals for themselves and the corporation for which they collectively work to build and nourish is a great way to set the tone of internal honesty. Organic and honest interrogations can not only create a safe space for employees to share but can create a pathway of transparency that would eventually be shared with consumers.
Without purpose, there is no mission, and with no mission, there is no set pathway or lane to follow. Corporations inevitably acquire their own individuality separate from their founders, executives, employees, and consumers. This individuality and purpose will create a culture that hopefully will have the opportunity to be joined and shared by hundreds of people, whether it’s through employment, partnership, consumers, and more. A corporation essentially becomes part of a community and its mission will be reflected throughout the streets where it’s shared.
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Get One, Give One Training Program is designed for companies and organizations to engage in a sustainable development mindset. The training program teaches, inspires, and provides knowledge through masterclasses, talks, team building activities, and fun experiences. Therefore, Zero Waste Shanghai applies principles of the Circular Economy making corporations more resilient and profitable to face potential legal and environmental changes in the near future. More information about the services here.