Mission statements often consist of a vague promise to improve the world.
So how do we take this to the next level? Purpose and frog came into Seed Spaces to discuss just this. These two incredible social impact agencies hosted a panel event with 3 exceptional leaders in the purpose sector, setting out to share how businesses can move beyond profit, CSR initiatives and risk mitigation to move into a world where businesses leverage their power to change the world.
Claire Maloney (founder of The Bravery), Andrea De Almeida (Strategic Advisor and former CEO of B Lab) and Ttobie Arowobusoye (Sustainability and Social Impact Advisor at 4 Pines) discussed all things empowerment, sustainability, and impact. Conversation was centred around how brands can authentically own their purpose and effectively support some of the world’s biggest movements, building powerful relationships with their audiences and making lasting social change.
Here are our favourite seven things we learnt from the event.
ONE. Every single person has a passion.
Passion moves people to remake the world. There’s a little fire inside of us all, and helping your employees understand what that fire is for them is important to connect them to your company’s overarching brand vision. It might not be a passion about sustainability or saving the world, but their passion will likely still have an important role to play within the purpose of your business.
TWO. Do the internal work.
Your mission statement is just the start of the journey. Being a purpose-led company is an ongoing and everchanging process, so you need to be continue doing the internal work, both personally and as a company. Internal work looks like establishing your company on a deeper level, so you become aware of its inner landscape and mechanisms. It founds the basis of your strategies, your driving purpose and grand voice, but most importantly, it helps you to connect with your audience better.
THREE. Collaborate: there are no turf wars to be won if you’re championing an issue for people or for planet
We’re at the beginning of our socio-ecological revolution, and this means there can be immaturity in the market within the for-purpose sectors. But there will be a moment where we come together and realise there are no turf wars to be won when you’re championing an issue on people or planet. We must stand on each other’s shoulders and use each other’s platforms to strengthen our messages, and help consumers understand the power of business.
FOUR. Bring other businesses along the for-purpose journey with you
Because the Australian landscape of business is made almost entirely of small – medium sized enterprises, it means there are a lot of moving parts. Business and its systems are not homogenous, and we don’t have multinational conglomerates that shape our local economy (or that spend millions of dollars on sustainability). Instead, we have many small businesses, some that are just struggling to survive. They might feel like they can’t afford to be sticking their head above water to chase big visions of purpose. So, when we talk business, we need to make sure we’re including them in our little spheres of operation. Be invitational rather than judgemental on your journey along the spectrum of SME to purpose-driven leader.
FIVE. Know where you sit within the ecosystem of change
Business is not homogenous, and each business will have a different and unique role to play within the ecosystem of change. Making sure you’re being intentional about your initiatives (and potentially refining and strengthening a few instead of championing many) will increase the level of impact you can have. Think about whether your impact might be downstream or upstream, support-based or action-based, and what sectors align with your brand best.
SIX. Get out and speak to people. All. The. Time.
It’s surprising what you’ll learn from people when you go out and listen. To place yourself within the ecosystem of change, get out there and start talking to people about who you think you are and what you can do as a business – you’ll be amazed at what they’ll tell you if you listen. By engaging and listening to the community, you’ll learn where they need your help and where they don’t need your help, which reduces duplicated efforts and wasted money. Be open.
SEVEN. Do the best you can.
There are so many changes you could make. From ethical eggs to ethical banks – you could spend your whole entire life researching what the best option is. Often, this leads to ‘ethical paralysis’, where you go down the rabbit hole and 5 hours later you’re still there, but now with more criteria and a bigger sense of overwhelm. It’s important to remember that you cannot do everything well all of the time, and you cannot be a good person or a good business 100% of the time. But this should still be your intent. As goes the quote, How do you know if you’re a good person? By continuing to ask that question.
ABOUT YOUR HOSTS.
Purpose: Purpose is a social impact agency with offices in New York, London, São Paulo, New Delhi, Nairobi and Sydney. We build and support movements to advance the fight for an open, just, and habitable world.
We use public mobilisation and storytelling to help the leading organisations, activists, businesses, and philanthropies engaged in this fight, and we create campaigning labs and new initiatives that can shift policies and change public narratives when it matters most.
frog: frog is a leading global creative consultancy, part of Capgemini Invent. Partnering with passionate leaders and visionary entrepreneurs, we apply creativity, strategy, design and data to re-invent businesses, drive growth and orchestrate customer centric transformation. We strive to shape a regenerative future that is both sustainable and inclusive for businesses, people and planet.
Photo credit: Ross Caddaye