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High Profile Magazine

Purposeful Profit

Over time, businesses have defined success by one factor: profitability. While that hasn't changed completely, in more recent years the role of business has evolved as leaders have been focused on creating a greater positive impact.

As consumers and employees demand more sustainable and ethical practices from businesses, companies respond by adapting their products, taking stands on issues, and putting purpose first.

Rising consumer empowerment means people are flocking to buy from and work for brands that make a positive impact on the world. As a result, it is no longer enough for brands to focus on business as usual and measure success solely by financial growth. They are increasingly expected to step forward on social issues and stand up for their beliefs or risk losing both customers and employees. This is what we call the Purposeful Profit, and it reflects a new business reality where companies are not only expected to do business in more ethical ways, but also, they are finding that doing so pays off in tangible business results.

So, how can decision making with empathy and purpose transform a corporation from one solely seeking to make money, into one that is successful both for its profits, but also for its impact?

When a leader believes that if we all can harness and focus on our individual talents, as a collective, we can create the change that we want to see. Those leaders and businesses who choose to do so are generating significant profit. They are proof that companies can combine positive social change and financial success. Acceptance and awareness can create meaningful action. We see the trend of leaders who want to serve a higher purpose through entrepreneurship.

In the past, brands would limit themselves to “soft branding” of cause-related initiatives - preferring to take a quiet role as an invisible supporter rather than taking public stand. This was once the best way for a corporation to support initiatives that aligned with its core values without feeling overly promotional. Today brands are expected to be more vocal. Sitting on the sidelines is not enough. Now companies must work to earn consumers’ trust through positive business models, ethical treatment of workers, charitable good deeds, socially responsible sourcing, and a daily commitment to purpose along with profit. Just as consumers are making intentional choices about what products to buy and brands to support, employees too are seeking workplaces that allow them to have a greater purpose and make a difference in the world.

How to use purposeful profit?

To start with, the leaders of businesses need to take a credible position; as profit and purpose matter more than ever before, brands and leaders alike can fall into the trap of rushing to take a position or make a stand on an issue without thinking through whether others will see their move as credible. As consumers and employees regularly turn to organisations with a strong purpose, they will be more exacting of those who claim to have purpose but do not back up their words with action.

Another way to use purposeful profit is to practice conscious capitalism. On a more personal side, as consumers, the power is in our hands. We may think that a small choice we make - perhaps forgoing a product that was produced questionably or paying a few dollars extra for a product that was ethically made - does not really make difference. After all, how much impact can one person have? Yet by making socially responsible choices consistently and thinking about the positive and negative impacts of our purchases, we can contribute to a ripple effect. With every decision about what we buy and where we buy it, we demonstrate what is important to us and send a clear message to organisations. The way they make their products and how they do their business matters.

And the third way to use purposeful profit is to focus on impact.

The more real-time tools (such as barcode scanning apps and online reviews) that consumers have to instantly assess corporate practices, the more they will demand not only a commitment to doing good, but also to achieving results. Those who can show demonstrable positive impact on the world will be the ones who can inspire the most loyalty from customers and employees alike, and sustained returns for investors as well.

We need mission-driven businesses now more than ever to help heal the wounds our world currently has.

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