Most CSR departments are run like this: A few passionate people, operating on the company’s fringes, are put in charge of creating impact.
These disconnected passion projects don’t constitute a purpose. CSR departments tend to be afterthoughts. The programming they run is inconsistent and doesn’t ladder up to a larger vision. There is limited to no visibility and awareness of the CSR department’s work even within the organization’s own walls.
Think back to the places you’ve worked. Now raise your hand, if any of them fit this description of having a CSR department that’s disconnected from the business. Or, of not even having a CSR department. Keep your hand raised if the majority of the places you’ve worked fit that bill.
For purpose to be an effective and inspiring rallying cry to the entire organization, it needs to be at the heart of the organization. Integrated into the overall business strategy. Guiding decisions. Not a “nice to have” that’s only considered during prosperous years, but a guiding vision for how the company will leave the world a better place because it existed.
A vision that is so integrated into the brand that every employee can say it back (heck, it’s the reason why top talent sought out your company in the first place!). The reason employees talk about where they work with pride. The reason they dedicate their heart, skills and brain power to innovate a constantly improving roadmap to make your vision a reality. A roadmap that keeps you in a different league from your competitors.
Lesson: For purpose to be effective, it needs to guide the way you make money, as well as how you give it away. This removes the tension between doing good and earning a profit. With this reframing, the success of your company is directly related to the size of the impact your company has.
The more sales you make, the closer you are to your vision of a better world.