November 17, 2021
Chief Global Strategist, Barings Investment Institute
Chief Purpose Officer, Deloitte
Historically, businesses have existed for the primary purpose of selling products or services. However, an increasing number of organizations are realizing that they can do so much more with their platforms. These purpose-driven companies generate both social and business value, looking beyond their goods to drive lasting change.
In an effort to foster a thriving and more equitable economy, many purpose-driven businesses have focused their efforts on diversity and inclusion. Here’s how business leaders are prioritizing and implementing purpose across their organizations.
Inclusive Growth Isn’t Just a Moral Imperative
Inclusive growth refers to economic growth that is distributed equitably for people of all backgrounds, including those who have historically been disadvantaged. As JB Holston, CEO of Greater Washington Partnership, says, inclusive growth isn’t just a moral imperative; it’s also a huge economic opportunity for the D.C. area.
“If we can make progress [in] closing some of the historic equity [and] wealth gaps that exist, there’s a $50 billion per year GDP opportunity for the region alone,” said Holston.
To develop an inclusive economy, there must also be inclusive leadership to ensure that everyone is being fairly represented and heard.
“Each of us brings a unique set of experiences and viewpoints shaped by a myriad of factors,” said Tamika Tremaglio, Greater Washington Managing Principal for Deloitte. “Being inclusive is really the key to effectively leading.”
To Drive Systemic Change, Businesses Must Take Collective Action
Though purpose-driven businesses may be motivated to enact change, they may feel their actions are just a drop in the bucket. However, when companies work together, those “drops in the bucket” can add up over time.
When collaborating with other local organizations to drive change, Holston encouraged leaders to focus on three things: sharing best practices with other organizations, collectively agreeing to make an impact, and — the real test — taking collective action, then holding everyone accountable for the results.
“I think organizations like ours are helpful intermediaries in terms of being a safe convener to ensure that those kinds of things happen,” Holston noted.
Tremaglio added that in addition to programmatic change, it’s critical for businesses to “be bolder about the things [they] do” by standing up to enact the change they want to see.
“It’s always critically important that we’re doing things, that we’re showing up, that we’re sponsoring others, that we’re putting people in positions where they’re able to shine,” Tremaglio said. “Giving people the opportunities, like we do at Deloitte, I think will continue to make a huge difference.”
How Businesses Can Integrate Purpose Into Their Business Strategy
Kwasi Mitchell, Deloitte’s chief purpose officer, shared three tips for businesses looking to integrate purpose into their current business practices.
“[Purpose has] got to be integrated into your strategy,” Mitchell explained. “You can’t have a purpose strategy over here and a business strategy over here; they’re one and the same.”
He also emphasized that as a leader, “you just fundamentally cannot do everything” — so it’s critical to simplify and focus on the areas that can drive the most impact.
Finally, Mitchell encouraged businesses to partner with other organizations and professionals along the way.
“The challenges that we’re trying to solve are just so fundamentally large,” he said. “Having that motley crew of friends that you bring along on the ride, just to drive change in ways that historically weren’t possible, is just absolutely vital.”