Purpose: Everyone Wants It, But What Does It Actually Mean?
Purpose has become a catch-all phrase that means different things to different people. Consumers are demanding that companies do more than make a profit and are basing their decisions on what to buy and where to work based on a company's responsible business practices and support of social and environmental issues.
CEOs and business leaders are responding. Eighty percent of global CEOs believe that demonstrating a commitment to Purpose is a differentiator in their industry. Two-thirds are increasing their investments in CSR and the marketing spend in cause continues to increase year over year.
Still, although consumers and business leaders alike are seeking Purpose, most are unsure of what it really means. And, the semantics of Purpose are fractured and sometimes confusing – we see the terms Sustainability, Citizenship, CSR, Cause, Shared Value used interchangeably with Purpose, further confusing the lexicon. Yet, the true tension lies less in the terminology and more in knowing what Purpose means for an organization – and how companies can authentically lead with Purpose at the core.
At Cone, we believe Purpose is more than a mission statement or commitment of values. Purpose defines an organization's authentic role and value in society that allows it to simultaneously grow its business and positively impact the world. It must be deeply embedded within the organization, the brand and the experience that is delivered.
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