The Purpose Economy

Triple-bottom line companies and other terms that describe companies that focus on more than just profit keep coming. The most recent is what is no referred to as the purpose economy in a new book. The idea is that as we run out of resources on the planet we need to refocus how we measure and talk about economic success.

A generation of Purpose Economy pioneers, like Whole Foods Market’s John Mackey and Virgin’s Richard Branson, are challenging others to follow their lead and to create new frameworks both to do well and to do good, which raises the bar for the business community and turns successful theories into movements. Richard Branson launched the B Team, a coalition aiming to go beyond traditional corporate social responsibility, and instead embrace what they call Plan B: “a plan that puts people and the planet alongside profit.” John Mackey and his team are promoting a new model for business he calls Conscious Capitalism, which inspired his book of the same name.

Other large corporations have shown signs of new, purpose-focused frameworks as well. Some of the most traditional companies like Deloitte and Pepsi have started to put their toes in the water, as their leaders recognize that while they can’t change overnight, they can develop long-term visions to make purpose a priority. In light of this, they have taken proactive and prudent steps in that direction. Pepsi’s CEO Indra Nooyi has framed their north star as “performance with purpose” and begun to make “healthy eats” and the environment core to their success. Deloitte, a consultancy with 200,000 employees around the globe, has made it a priority to embrace a culture of purpose, realizing that successful companies must be “keenly aware of the purpose they fulfill for clients, employees, community, and other groups,” and they have integrated those goals into their business’s core activities.

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