Vibrant Economy Blog

Purpose and profit: Looking beyond the bottom line

Multi-million pound turnovers, back-to-back winners of ‘best company to work for’ and fast-growth firms exporting all over the world, when it comes to measuring success, Faces of a Vibrant Economy have several ways to do it.

When it comes to what lies behind this success, purpose emerges as the uniting factor. Some 97% of Faces said their organisation has a clear purpose beyond profit – with 74% of them saying purpose positively affects the profitability of their organisation.

Whether you’re pursuing growth, fighting for talent or entering new markets, the Faces community demonstrates why it’s smart to stand for something..

Dr. Jane Collins, Chief Executive of Marie Curie, describes how her charity’s purpose inspires the team in its work to support those living with terminal illness, “Our workforce are incredibly passionate about our purpose and are proud to work for Marie Curie as a result,” she says. “Harnessing that good will and passion means staff and volunteers are looking at ways to do more and do things better.”

Purpose has a positive effect on a team’s performance and, as Ellen Green, CEO of Blue Badge Co, explains, it also boosts profit. “Our employees benefit from very flexible hours and home working so they can put their families first.” She adds, “Sustainable employment boosts personal confidence and team morale. We are setting a standard across small businesses and encouraging social change. We have a very low turnover of staff, enabling us to meet our financial goals.”

Traditionally, purpose meant charity. And, there is no shortage of Faces engaged in such areas – in fact, 95% of Faces said they are involved with charitable endeavours. Yet, what separates many of the Faces from simply giving to charity is their commitment to work with, and even create their own, third sector organisations.

Moneypenny Co-founder Rachel Clacher says, “Out of Moneypenny we set up the charity WeMindTheGap to bring the benefit of our holistic approach to people development to a whole new cohort in the local community. Namely, under-served unemployed young women who have been referred by local agencies.”

The role of purpose is visible in organisations with a culture that believes in profit, but not at any cost. As Bevis Watts, Managing Director of Triodos Bank, outlines, “Profit isn’t a bad thing. But too often it becomes the only metric by which companies evaluate themselves and their value. This applies in particular to the financial services world, where a culture of self-interest encourages the wrong types of behaviours and predatory practices. In contrast, our motivation is to use finance – and any profit that we generate – to enable healthy relationships between people and their society and natural environment.”

The lesson is, do not view purpose and profit as separate goals. Instead, see purpose as a way to boost team morale, attract new customers and play an active role in building a vibrant economy around you.