There’s a lot of purpose talk out there but not much action. At ActionFunder we help businesses put the walk to their talk by collaborating with grassroots charities.
We talk with lots of business and community leaders about what being purpose-driven really means. Here’s what we know:
- 79% of business leaders believe purpose is critical to their companies’ success.
- Purpose-driven businesses grow 28x faster than average.
The benefits are clear. Leading with purpose increases brand advocacy, customer retention, employee engagement, and investor appeal.
No matter where you are in your purpose journey, this checklist of practical actions will help make your business more purpose-driven.
8 steps to walking the talk on purpose
Before you get going, we recommend assembling a working group from across the business to go through this checklist and collaboratively shape your purpose plan. The more people in your organisation who have their fingerprints on the company’s purpose, the stickier it will be.
1. Rally around purpose
Your purpose is your company’s north star. Make sure it shines through all your top-level messaging. This includes your vision, mission, values, brand, and positioning statements.
Relatable purpose-focused messaging will help rally everyone–teammates, customers, investors, community members, partners, and suppliers–around your purpose.
1a. Your mission & vision
Your vision and mission statements are declarations of your purpose. Make sure they capture your business’s reason for being.
1b. Your company values
Values guide your business’s decisions and actions. Now’s a great time to refine your values so they’re a clear beacon for your team.
1c. Your brand identity
Think about how well your brand reflects your purpose. A positive, purposeful brand identity will champion your purpose and win over new customers. In fact, consumers are 4x more likely to buy from you if they believe your brand has a strong purpose. (Thanks to Zeno Strength of Purpose Study for that fun fact.)
1d. Your positioning statements
Everyone from the top down should be able to explain how your company is marching towards its vision and mission, especially the CEO. Be sure to develop positioning statements that leaders will use to align stakeholders around the company’s purpose.
81% of people (according to 2022 the Edelman Trust Barometer) think CEOs should be personally visible to talk about work their companies have done to benefit society.
2. Do a purpose audit
Take stock of where you are in your purpose journey. To do this, take a look at your people, products, processes, and positioning. That audit will reveal all the ways you’re currently demonstrating your purpose, along with some opportunities for improvement.
Dread doing an audit? Give the B Impact Assessment a try. Just plug all your info into this digital tool for an objective view of your company’s impact on the environment, communities, customers, suppliers, employees, and shareholders.
2a. People and culture
Purpose shines from the inside so think through your internal people processes and culture, including:
- Hiring practices
- Compensation structure
- Training practices
2b. Products or services
Next, comb through the company’s product and service portfolio and ask these questions:
- What impact does each product or service have (good and bad)?
- Where do products come from? What about the raw materials?
- What kind of reputations do your vendors have?
Supply chain transparency solutions like FRDM and Circulator give companies detailed reports about exactly how their products and materials are produced, and by whom.
Do an end-to-end review of your core processes. This should span sales, marketing, product, customer success, finance, and operations. Consider every touchpoint in your ecosystem, like vendors, tools, and carbon footprint.
Review all company content to make sure it accurately reflects your purpose, mission, values, and brand. A content audit should include:
- training materials
- marketing content
- sales collateral
- ad placements
- product packaging
- benefit claims
3. Weave purpose into your culture
Your purpose is much more than just a marketing campaign. It starts with your people. There’s a lot you can do to point your whole team in the direction of your purpose.
The real beauty is that when everyone feels connected to your purpose, employees wind up more engaged, satisfied, and loyal.
3a. Values-based recognition program
Create an award or recognition program that rewards people for demonstrating company values. It’s a great way to incentivize team members to help the company walk its talk.
Set the stage for your values from the beginning. Share company values during the interview process and ask smart questions to gauge value alignment.
3c. Training materials
Values should also be incorporated into training and onboarding programs, if they’re not already. Teach people how your values are relevant to their roles. Include examples based on real situations of how to demonstrate those values.
3d. Codes of conduct
It’s time to dust off that employee handbook and give it a refresher. Make sure the expectations you set for employees support the company’s purpose.
3e. Revisions to compensation plan
If you uncovered discrepancies or red flags in your compensation structure, think about what changes you can make to create a more fair and equitable environment for all team members.
4. Instil purpose in your products or services
Purpose-driven companies have 30% higher innovation rates (according to Deloitte). Now’s your chance to exercise those innovation muscles.
Look back at the audit you did of your product/service portfolio to see which lines can be improved or evolved, and which ones simply need to be cut.
4a. Product packaging, labels, and collateral
This could be a great time to redesign your product packaging and collateral. When you approach this work, make sure:
- Design and copy reflect your brand and purpose
- Packaging and labels are accessible
- Benefit claims comply with the Green Claims Code
- You minimize packaging as much as possible
4b. Innovation timeline
Work with your product or services team to create a roadmap that will:
- Introduce new products that meet your purpose goals
- Reduce the carbon footprint of existing products
- Retire products that aren’t in alignment or have a negative impact
5. Think about third parties
Who your company is affiliated with says a lot. It’s hard for people to trust companies that proclaim certain values but then work with other companies that clearly don’t reflect those values.
5a. Partners and suppliers
If you uncovered partners or vendors during your audit that have dodgy reputations, it’s time to let them go. Then set out to find new partners who are better aligned. Contracting with other purposeful companies–particularly social enterprises and community interest companies–will increase your impact. Organisations like Supply Change can help you find trusted social suppliers.
5b. Credentials and certifications
Consider pursuing a certification or two from third-party organisations. This goes a long way toward building trust. Three of our favourites are B-Corp Certification, CSR-A Accreditation, and Planet Mark.
6. Develop a community engagement plan
Engaging local communities tops the list of our favourite ways to lead with purpose. Support local communities and you will It can help so many people. Plus, it drives promotes brand awareness, engages your fellow s employees, and creates storytelling opportunities to share with all stakeholders.
6a. Community engagement checklist
Check out this Community Engagement Checklist. It will walk you through all the steps of building and managing a community engagement program.
6b. Non-profit giving
Giving directly to non-profits, especially grassroots organisations and community groups, is one of the simplest ways to make an impact. We bet there are dozens of groups in your local area that are doing some great work related to your purpose.
ActionFunder is a company-to-community funding platform that makes it easy to find and fund projects that align with your purpose. Just create a profile on ActionFunder and get instantly matched with like-minded non-profits in your area. Pick which projects you want to fund, follow the impact, and share the results with stakeholders.
7. Plan for a sustainable future
With the UK’s commitment to be net zero by 2050, sustainability simply must be part of your plan. Here are some easy wins to incorporate into your sustainability strategy.
7a. Efficient energy sources
There’s a good chance you can reduce your business’s carbon footprint by swapping out some of your energy sources. Consider this:
- Energy-efficient computers use 25-40% less energy.
- LED lighting uses 60% less energy.
- And solar panels reduce energy costs by a whopping 75%
7b. Waste reduction
Use these questions to spawn ideas to help your company reduce the amount of waste it produces.
- Have you gone paperless?
- Do you have paper or plastic cups at your water coolers or do people bring their own water bottles?
- Is your kitchen filled with disposable or reusable dishes?
- Coffee pots or k-cups?
7c. Public transportation benefits
Did you know that cars produce 52% of the UK’s carbon emissions? So you can see the benefit of keeping them off the road. One way to do this is by making it easier for people to take public transportation. Does your company offer bus or train passes as an employee perk?
8. Measure & share your progress
Everyone–investors, customers, employees, and the broader community– wants to know how well you’re living up to your commitments. Measuring and sharing your progress will keep your purpose at the forefront.
8a. Goals & KPIs
Think back to your audit and list 3-4 goals you’d like to accomplish. Then figure out the KPIs you’ll use to measure progress.
8b. Reporting structure
Build a framework to regularly track performance. There are lots of different ESG and CSR tools that can help you calculate your impact.
8c. Wins & losses
90% of the world’s top 250 companies produce an annual CSR impact report. Don’t keep your data in a bubble. Celebrate your wins and be honest about your losses.
The path to purpose is a journey
Becoming a purpose-driven company doesn’t happen overnight. But if you commit to doing the work, your efforts will surely pay off.
If you’d like some help with any of the steps on this checklist or your broader purpose strategy, ">get in touch with the ActionFunder team. We often consult with businesses that want to walk the talk on purpose and would be happy to partner with you.