Purpose: From the Inside Out

2017 will be the year when employees realize their power in purpose-driven business success 

For companies to win in the new reputation economy, they need people to believe in what they stand for and engage them in their societal impact efforts. That is never truer than it is with today’s Millennials who will be roughly 50% of the global workforce by 2020. Millennials are not only our current and future employees (and bosses) but they are our current and future customers. Understanding their personal views and ideals will be the only critical way to help us manage corporate reputation now and well into the future.

According to Deloitte’s third annual Millennial Survey, while most Millennials (74%) believe business is having a positive impact on society, by generating jobs (48%) and increasing prosperity (71%), they think business can do much more to address society’s challenges in the areas of most concern: resource scarcity (68%), climate change (65%) and income equality (64%). Additionally, 50% of Millennials surveyed want to work for a business with ethical practices.

Deloitte’s third annual Millennial Survey surveyed nearly 7,800 Millennials from 28 countries across Western Europe, North America, Latin America, BRICS and Asia-Pacific about business, government and innovation. The questionnaire focused on the role business plays in society; its objectives, impact and outcomes; the responsibility of business and government and how well each is addressing the challenges faced by society. Deloitte’s Millennial Survey also found that Millennials are eager to make a difference. Millennials believe the success of a business should be measured in terms of more than just its financial performance, with a focus on improving society among the most important things it should seek to achieve. Millennials are also charitable and keen to participate in ‘public life’: 63% of Millennials donate to charities, 43% actively volunteer or are a member of a community organization, and 52% have signed petitions.

This intersection of Millennials’ expectations and their eagerness to make a difference provides an opportunity for companies and brands, if they are smart enough, to seize it. You don’t have to look far to find some companies already maximizing this opportunity and a closer look will show you that these are the companies and brands whose reputations are benefiting from it.

Recently, Reputation Institute, a private global consulting firm based in New York, invited about 47,000 consumers across 15 markets to participate in a study that ranked the world’s 100 most reputable companies–all multinational businesses with a global presence. In addition to finding the companies with the best reputations, the study discovered that people’s willingness to buy, recommend, work for, and invest in a company is driven 60% by their perceptions of the company, and only 40% by their perceptions of the products, says Kasper Ulf Nielsen, Reputation Institute’s executive partner. Each company earned a “RepTrak® Pulse” score representing an average measure of people’s feelings for it. The scores were statistically derived from four emotional indicators: trust, esteem, admiration, and good feeling. Reputation Institute then analyzed what it calls the seven dimensions of corporate reputation, including workplace, governance, citizenship, financial performance, leadership, products and services, and innovation. 

Millennials are already open to engaging with brands and look for purposeful work. It’s time to start leveraging their potential and incorporating employees into the planning and implementation of purpose goals.  With research indicating that 88% of Millennials make employment choices based on a company’s CSR values and 86% consider leaving a company if its Corporate Citizenship values no longer meet expectations, it’s clear that to lead in the new reputation economy, businesses must have strong voices inside the company when it comes to their values and initiatives.

The impact of purpose from the inside out on the future of reputation for business is crystal clear.

Interested in understanding RF|Binder’s proprietary methodology of building purpose from the inside out, contact Scott Beaudoin at scott.beaudoin@rfbinder.com