The Purposeful Company: Policy Report – Blueprint Statement

A Blueprint for Better Business warmly welcomes the publication of The Purposeful Company: Policy Report. We are glad to have been involved as contributors in this important project.

The opening two sections of the report describe the core beliefs and aims. They also describe what a purposeful company is, and why purpose is so important. The essential point, which is foundational also for our work at Blueprint, is the recognition that a purposeful company is fundamentally oriented to serving society, and where profit is seen as the outcome not the purpose. As the report states: “The purposeful company contributes meaningfully towards human betterment and creates long term value for all stakeholders”. A company is more than a web of transactions. It is a human community whose flourishing depends on, and is partly constituted by, the quality of relationships with employees, customers, suppliers and wider society.

The interim report, published last year, contains an excellent distillation of the evidence linking purpose and performance. It demonstrates how purposeful companies can more effectively align business success through serving the needs of society. Other research also supports this potential for mutuality of benefit. As an example: in September last year, 50 leading academics attended a conference on ‘Organisations with Purpose’ convened by Blueprint, in conjunction with London Business School and the LBS Leadership Institute. The conference demonstrated that many companies are making efforts to more clearly recognise the needs of society in how they behave and operate. This initiative from the Big Innovation Centre, alongside others, can do much to help galvanise and stimulate the development of a movement which can have a lasting and far reaching positive impact for the good of society; alongside sustainable business performance.

There are different views as to the most effective means of advancing this agenda. For some, the emphasis is on policy and governance, addressing incentives, and promoting certification or mandatory approaches. Such changes can send strong signals about the expectations of the role and behaviours of business, but there is an accompanying risk that regulatory changes frame purpose as a technical and compliance led construct.

We welcome the inclusive approach the authors of this report adopted. Contributors, such as ourselves, were able to participate in the conversation without being committed to supporting the full suite of specific policy recommendations made by the steering group. This allowed us to contribute to a practical report, whilst maintaining our belief that the essential requirement of becoming a purposeful company, is a change of mind-set: i.e. to fully embrace the expectation for business to be a force for good in society and to release human potential.

The core message, in our view, is noted in Section 2 of the report: “purpose must go beyond a formal announcement and flow throughout the company

Charles Wookey, CEO
A Blueprint for Better Business