During May I was a speaker at the Beyond Good Business conference in London. A key thread of the discussion was that all businesses, particularly large corporates can benefit by making purpose integral to their mission. This is not some wishy washy “niche” tree hugger approach. As an unashamed capitalist, I believe fundamentally that purpose is good for all businesses and the only sustainable approach.
The recent BA crisis has highlighted the dangers of not balancing the needs of all stakeholders. The foundations of any organisation are its culture and values i.e. “What do you stand for?” and its Primary Purpose “What are we here for, from the perspective of our customers?” . The purpose of a business is not purely to make profit for shareholders –that is the economic output of servicing your customers needs exceptionally well. BA appears to have forgotten this and rather than focusing on being a great place to work for its employees and delighting its customers, cost cutting seems to be the priority. No business can expect to build long term sustainable value by ignoring the fundamentals of employee motivation and customer loyalty. The short term approach by BA will undoubtedly lead to long term value destruction.
It’s hardly surprising that this resonates incredibly well with the survey we ran recently at Growth4Good amongst mission led businesses and reinforces why every business needs to be mission led, even those as large as BA.
Our survey was a quantitative piece of research, admittedly surveying only 35 business leaders from purpose-led business/social enterprise/charity sector. We asked them to rank topic areas for content and best practice examples that would help them grow their organisations. ‘The role of technology in enabling business growth’ was the highest ranked topic. This is not surprising: the opportunities afforded by tech and its ever-changing nature mean it’s crucial for all organisations. In second place was ‘Staying true to your values’. Both points highly relevant to all businesses, even those as large as BA!
I founded Growth4Good as a business accelerator focused on partnering and investing in high growth social businesses in the digital media and technology sectors. We want to help purpose-led business accelerate their growth by providing best practice examples and a forum for discussion and support. We think there’s an opportunity to create a community of purpose-led organisations, firstly, to support each other and, secondly, to work together to show the wider world that business should be a force for good.
Although many businesses are doing great things, there are not enough good news stories out there. Please help us promote business that does good.
People clearly want to share their experiences: half of our survey’s respondents were keen to contribute to our content and we’d like to ensure everyone can get involved. We want to start off with the two topics that were of particular interest to purpose-led business and social enterprises: ‘The role of technology in enabling business growth’ and Staying true to your values. Any experience, examples or advice you have on how to deal with these challenges would be much appreciated. Would you like to contribute to a blog post or write one yourself? You could share it as yourself or even keep it anonymous. Either way, please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, we’re on Twitter @growth4good so do join the conversation there.
Photo by M42 at Morguefile.com