Corporate purpose: a force for good

15th November by Lee Robertson

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Photo by Oleg Illarionov on Unsplash

We have reached a stage where organisations can no longer rely on old playbooks of putting profit before people or purpose. The spectre of climate change, cost of living crisis, worsening skills shortage, social injustices and macroeconomic uncertainty are all demanding that businesses commit to more than bank rolling shareholders or growing their market share.

At the upcoming Great Leadership Reset conference, we will be taking a look at various aspects of purpose and how it is the driving engine of some of the most successful organisations represented at the event.

Purposeful organisations need purposeful leaders

Step forward Adrian Bettridge, managing partner of Baringa Partners who is taking part in the panel discussion around purpose alongside NatWest’s Jen Tippin and Rina Goldenberg Lynch from diversity consultancy Voice At The Table.

The management consulting firm stands as a business that is about people, impact, and doing the best for the communities where they work and live. Achieving B Corp status in May 2022, Baringa is recognised as using business as a force for good and Bettridge champions the triple-bottom line of people, planet and profit. As an impact-based business, its services are designed to deliver positive social or environmental impact on its clients and their clients.

The company has helped clients create enough renewable energy capacity to power 180 million homes and it has been hands-on in supporting the Department for Health and NHS with their response to Covid-19. The B Corp listing is proof that how Baringa works enables it to make the world a better place while being successful and growing at the same time.

Recognising that poor culture equates to poor leadership and poor performance, Baringa has pioneered a positive people-first way of working. It supports the career development of all colleagues with an active feedback culture and coaching in order to promote a growth mindset. The organisation’s strive to be a great employer has also come to fruition with it topping or coming within the top five of great places to work lists over the last decade.

Purpose and people are at the core of business transformation

Earlier this year, NatWest Group was revealed as one of the biggest climbers on Management Today’s 2021 Most Admired Companies listing. Coming in at number 132 (up from 180), the bank was singled out for its “genuine commitment” to diversity among the executive team and its sponsorship of the COP26 conference was seen as further evidence of a culture change.

Alison Rose, who took over as CEO of NatWest in 2019, has been a powerful supporter of diversity and is backed up by Jen Tippin in the role of chief people and transformation officer. Tippin is responsible for the people strategy and transformation plan as well as customer journeys, investment, property and supply chain services.

Since 2020, the bank has been rolling out a new strategy which puts purpose at its heart and is tied into community, sustainability and D&I. NatWest Group has been ahead of the curve in terms of bringing together transformation and people and for Tippin, the strategy is mindful of values, behaviours, people, skills and a better outcome for people, community and society.

The bank’s purpose is built around harnessing potential and echoes that of Baringa Partners. Likewise, it is underpinned with the intention of having a positive impact on the people, families and communities within its ecosystem.

The bank has also been careful to invest in its employees’ learning and development opportunities and takes the view that every connection with a customer and every interaction with a colleague is a chance to learn and to educate. Employees are given the tools and knowledge to let them take control of their own learning and each person understands the critical capabilities they need to do their own job well and any other job in the organisation, making career planning easier. It also boasts its own learning academy, professional career development programme and puts coaching and mentoring to good use in empowering its talent to serve customers well.

Purpose means being all inclusive

For Rina Goldenberg Lynch, founder of Voice At The Table, DE&I was “not yet a thing” when she established the business in 2013. After nearly ten years in business, she is quick to point out that the position of diversity and inclusion manager is now one of the hottest jobs advertised on LinkedIn as the topic has ascended the business agenda.

The Voice At The Table provides diversity and inclusion consultancy, awareness raising and training for organisations, departments and teams and Goldenberg Lynch still sees organisations running into walls with inconsistent behaviour. She advises that the tone has to come from the top with leaders identifying how it supports the organisation’s mission and vision and doing the groundwork to pinpoint biases and how they might impact business decisions.

The team at Voice At The Table helps organisations tap into the diversity of their people by improving inclusive behaviours of leaders and teams so that everyone can contribute fully and be valued for being themselves.

In creating diverse, high-performing organisations, such as NatWest or Baringa partners, organisations are learning that interventions around inclusion can help enhance business performance and fosters an environment where everyone is able to succeed and the business grow stronger.