The Purpose Economy: Reshaping the metrics of business success

by | Apr 15, 2024

“Business leaders across Canada are increasingly aware of aligning their business with their corporate purpose. Businesses with more established [sustainability] may even be looking at putting their corporate purpose at the core of everything they do.”

This is how business reporter Irene Galea opened the Globe & Mail webcast on the Purpose Economy before an audience of nearly 500 from across Canada, suggesting that while the concept of a corporate purpose isn’t new, the idea of a purpose-centred economy is.

The webcast, with sponsorship support from Coast Capital Credit Union and in partnership with the Canadian Purpose Economy Project (CPEP), was kicked off by an interview with Coro Strandberg, CPEP Chair. She was followed by a panel of business leaders at different stages of building social purpose into their organizations. The discussion was wide-ranging, starting with an overview of CPEP’s efforts to create an enabling environment for social purpose businesses to start, transition, thrive and grow.

The panellists spoke to their experience defining, embedding, and evaluating social purpose in their organizations including:

“The real power of having a social purpose is to use it to align your entire strategic direction to empower your workforce to make critical decisions in a fast and innovative way.” – David Redfern, President and CEO, Lafarge Eastern Canada

“To define your purpose, you need to look at what you do uniquely well and what is needed in the world. Research the world’s challenges and the pain points you are hoping to address. The intersection is your purpose.” – Maureen Young, VP Social Purpose, Coast Capital

“By 2026 78% of family businesses in Canada will be preparing for the transition to the next generation who is increasingly craving meaningful work and expecting the business to add value back to society.” – Liz McBeth, CEO, Armour Valve

“We need private investment firms to invest in social purpose companies to help them grow and scale and contribute to the purpose economy we are all hoping and striving for.” – Christelle Francois, Chair, Table of Impact Investment Practitioners and Board Chair, Boann Social Impact

In addition to sharing their challenges, successes and strategies, the panel members emphasized the critical necessity of authenticity, to avoid “purpose-washing” by merely setting out a purpose statement but not ensuring that changes are truly made, are meaningful, and are measured.

The panellists explained how purpose and profitability are not mutually exclusive and, in fact, when united, can give a competitive edge to companies.

The webcast was first heard during the third “National Purpose in Business” week in November 2023.

To learn more listen here