The recent report analysing findings from the Professional Services Purpose Survey explores the journey from corporate social responsibility (CSR) to responsibility and onto purpose. It purports that (i) 'CSR' is the first step with a potentially piecemeal commitment across the organisation, (ii) 'Responsibility' is a more holistic yet internal approach and (iii) 'Purpose' is a true commitment to ethical business practices that runs throughout all that the organisation does, and delivers externally, through key stakeholder relationships.
Purpose has certainly been added to the list of various terminologies that pertain to responsible business but what does it really mean?
For a true sense of purpose there has to be an alignment throughout the whole organisation and an embedding in the culture. This is certainly driven both by strategic leadership and an authentic contribution bottom-up and top-down. Inherently this requires a value and respect of all but not with a deference that is afraid to challenge and call out concerns.
Achieving Purpose requires a mature understanding that the organisation not only generates revenue and profits but can help deliver wider societal and environmental benefits as an integral way in which it does and pursues business. Conversely the pursuit of wider societal and environmental benefits, and a care of stakeholder views, ultimately delivers to the long-term commercial success as the organisation keeps pace and even leads the needed societal changes for sustainable development to be realised.
A purpose is for life, not just for a crisis In early 2021, PM Forum members were surveyed on where their firms sat in terms of CSR, responsibility and purpose. Helen Foord analyses the findings of the first Professional Services Purpose Survey.