I feel fortunate to have experienced meaningful change at various stages in my life thanks to a focus on purpose. Professionally, during my tenure at Prologis, our efforts to restore financial stability involved aligning our core business practices with purpose-driven initiatives in our respective office communities all over the world.
Personally, serving as a trustee of my alma mater reminds me that our business model is at its best when the university’s focused on a connection to its community and a service mentality. My volunteer work for other causes I care about are a constant reminder of the incredible change that’s possible when a higher purpose is at the forefront of decision-making.
Through the lens of these experiences I felt the need to share a communal “wow” when I recently discovered an inspiring theme among 20 businesses recognized for the transformations they accomplished in the last decade. Transformation 20 is a study that explores and highlights the remarkable changes these companies accomplish and their efforts to refocus core business practices on purpose-related endeavors.
Business Roundtable has echoed this study’s initiative by redefining the purpose of a corporation. More than 180 CEOs signed Roundtable’s statement stating that:
Serving shareholders can no longer be the main purpose of a corporation; rather, it needs to be about serving society, through innovation, commitment to a healthy environment and economic opportunity for all.
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This philosophy was the foundation of many transformations recognized in the study, including:
- China’s AIA Group has moved beyond health insurance and become a wellness company.
- Dutch electronics company, Phillips, has largely divested its legacy lighting business to focus on healthcare technology.
- Siemens moved beyond a purpose of maximizing shareholder value to a mission of “serving society.”
- In response to the growing global backlash against tech’s dominance in our lives, Tencent redefined its mission: “tech for social good.”
- Danish Oil and Natural Gas renamed its company Ørsted and established its core business from black to green around sustainable growth.
Purpose is no longer shouldered exclusively by the social sector. Today, corporations realize they can share in the honorable work associated with doing good and still surpass shareholder expectations. In fact, purpose can often be the engine behind economic opportunity. It’s hard not to get excited when you see a blended approach working in the global marketplace. Insert your collective “wow” here and let’s applaud those who are leading by example.