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The corporate purpose, a strategic priority for managers and investors around the world

Purpose & Culture

The corporate purpose, a strategic priority for managers and investors around the world

  • The Corporate Purpose Roadmap® is here, a new methodology to help companies in the process of creating, implementing, and activating their corporate purpose

  • Superunion and Corporate Excellence - Center for Reputation Leadership together with DKV Seguros and BlackRock discuss the strategic importance of purpose and stakeholder capitalism

Madrid, October 2nd 2020. In a context marked by the COVID-19 crisis, the corporate purpose has become a strategic priority for executives and investors worldwide. Companies must now abandon models focused exclusively on their shareholders to respond to all their stakeholders' needs. This has been stated in the launch of The Corporate Purpose Roadmap®, a new methodology developed by the brand consultancy firm Superunion and by Corporate Excellence - Centre for Reputation Leadership to help organizations create, implement, and activating their corporate purpose.

The results of the presented studies, together with the continuous analysis of business practices and, most notably, the effects of the COVID-19 crisis, has demonstrated the fundamental role corporate purpose has. It is a lever for transforming and activating positive and value-creating behaviours aligned around a shared system of beliefs and values. Nevertheless, this purpose has not been defined or implemented in line with a rigorous framework in many cases. Consequently, it has become a mere publicity stunt or irrelevant message or, in the worst of cases, a counterproductive exercise. In the words of Ángel Alloza, CEO of Corporate Excellence - Centre for Reputation Leadership, "a poorly conceived purpose lacks coherence and authenticity, and results in a lack of legitimacy and trust."

"The consideration of one's benefit in parallel with that of society is not at odds with good economic and financial results, but rather the opposite," assures Aitor Jauregui, managing director of Blackrock in Spain, Portugal, and Andorra. The annual letters on corporate governance from Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, warned the need for companies to have values and principles that focus on the generation of value beyond profit and loss accounts. It is a significant example of how social change we witness is also reflected in investors' decisions, demanding more inclusive, integrated, and ethically responsible behavior. Jauregui reminds us that Fink's letter from 2019 was solely focused on the need for companies to understand their purpose. "As stated by Larry Fink in his 2019 letter, the purpose is so much more than a mere slogan or marketing campaign. It is the fundamental reason why a company exists: what they do each day to generate value for their stakeholders," the director of Blackrock Iberia concludes.

The Corporate Purpose Roadmap® demonstrates how companies can define a purpose that connects employees, clients, and society. To activate supportive behaviors and attitudes, the corporate purpose must be created from the "inside out," through a process of strategic reflection and mechanisms that involve employees. It is strengthened by the "outside-in" through the integration of the expectations of the various stakeholders. In this sense, the CEO of DKV Seguros, Josep Santacreu, highlights that "launching a project for defining or redefining corporate purpose is a strategic activity that requires clear conviction from upper management and it should never be perceived as a fad that we are obligated to take on". In the words of Santacreu, "the definition, implementation and activation of purpose must stem from a reflected and consensual decision, and we must be willing to assume all implications and consequences with a long-term vision".

The need for a demonstrated and proven methodology for effectively defining a corporate purpose and, above all, activating it in line with the needs of a company is why we have now launched The Corporate Purpose Roadmap®: a model that enables the identification of a company's true leitmotif  - their raison d'être - (why and for what purpose the company exists), how they can develop this purpose (guiding values), what products or services they offer (mission statement), and what scope and the specific contribution they will offer their principal stakeholders (the vision they want to build with them).

According to Almudena Clemente, Head of Strategy at the brand consulting firm Superunion, "defining a corporate purpose is relatively easy. What is harder is making it a reality and implementing it in a company's day-to-day activities to serve as a filter and a valuable and authentic guide for the company. Because having a purpose isn't about being perfect. It's about striving each day to be better".

Task forces have developed the project at Superunion and Corporate Excellence, led by Almudena Clemente, Head of Strategy at Superunion, and Clara Fontán, Director of Intelligence & Knowledge at Corporate Excellence – Centre for Reputation Leadership. It has counted on the supervision and technical direction of Ángel Alloza, CEO at Corporate Excellence – Centre for Reputation Leadership and Pilar Domingo, Managing Director at Superunion Madrid.