Coro’s Blog: On Purpose
Are corporations serving their purpose?
Published on April 8, 2022
With a growing number of companies adopting a social purpose beyond profit, Corporate Knights and I weigh in on the leaders and laggards in this report. You will know Corporate Knights for their annual ranking of the world’s 100 most sustainable corporations and Canada’s top 50 corporate citizens.
Amidst the upheaval of a global pandemic, a mounting climate emergency and rising inequality, a chorus of stakeholders has been calling on business to help society address these challenges. Among those calls, a recurring question is being debated: what is the purpose of business?
In response, pioneering companies are defining why they exist, beyond serving shareholders. A growing number are adopting a social purpose to contribute to a better world.
However, they are gravely at risk of failing to implement it.
Enter the Corporate Knights social purpose ranking, the first of its kind in the world. By shedding light on purpose leaders and laggards, it hopes to head off “purpose-washing” (where purpose statements are more of a marketing mantra than raison d’être). Instead, our report hopes to create an implementation roadmap for authentic businesses and leaders.
I collaborated with Corporate Knights in studying pioneering social purpose companies to determine the state of play among companies operating in Canada, including private, domestic companies and public, global companies. We began by looking at nearly 200 companies and found that only 17% had adopted a purpose that went beyond creating value for shareholders and customers to expressly creating value for society – if they had a publicly expressed purpose at all.