After another rollercoaster year of fast-paced change for businesses and their people, it doesn’t look like life in 2024 is going to slow down! The global climate crisis and rising energy prices, political unrest and armed conflicts, a struggling health service, plus the rapid rise of AI and other technological developments provide the backdrop to lives that are altogether more complex and confused, stretched and stressed.

So, is there a better, and healthier, way to do business?

A prophetic pre-Covid study carried out in 2018 by A Blueprint for Better Business and the Health Foundation, highlighted that there was a very clear link between the health of businesses and the health of people. They showed that businesses not only have a clear impact on the health of the people they employ and serve, but they have the power to affect them in very positive ways too.

The purpose of A Blueprint for Better Business is to create a better society through better business and they have gone on to develop five guiding principles to help businesses deliver value by serving society. Their five principles of a purpose driven business include:

  • Honest and fair with customers and suppliers
  • A good citizen
  • A responsible and responsive employer
  • A guardian for future generations
  • Has a purpose which delivers long-term sustainable performance

Further studies have shown that more ethical and purpose driven companies gain higher market share, grow faster than their competitors, attract and keep higher calibre employees and achieve high employee and customer satisfaction.

In contrast, businesses with a narrower and shorter term focus on profit and profit maximisation can compromise product and service quality, damage their reputation, struggle with customer loyalty and retention, have higher employee turnover and lower engagement.

How does a business become purpose driven?

Firstly, a business needs to reframe its purpose, from one that exists to make profit at all cost, to an entity that sees profit as one outcome of pursuing a wider purpose that benefits society.

If this strikes a chord with you, A Blueprint for Better Business provide a useful framework based on their five guiding principles to help with decision making, emphasising the dignity and value of people and the types of behaviour necessary to achieve a more balanced, sustainable and better way of doing business.

The authors have been keen to emphasise that it isn’t just about doing good, but about doing good business. They challenge businesses to consider a) whether their purpose is authentic and genuinely guides their decision making and b) if the people affected by what they do are genuinely respected and cared for.

Since these principles were first introduced, more and more businesses are now extending their responsible work practice and seeking relevant accreditation through specific schemes, such as the very accessible and affordable Good Business Charter or the internationally recognised, but more pricey, certification from B-Corp.

There are lots of helpful resources and frameworks out there, and a great need to better support people and the planet, so let’s hope 2024 sees the rise of the purpose driven business!

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