How authentic is your corporate purpose?

June 2015

An organisation’s corporate purpose can be defined as its reason for being, or more specifically, the underlying objective that unifies all stakeholders and ultimately represents that organisation’s role in the big wide world. But also important is that a corporate purpose be authentic – without authenticity an organisation can be subjected to mistrust and scepticism and ultimately damage their corporate reputation. But if not all organisations even use the term corporate purpose and others, only in an informal way – who is leading the way in authentic corporate purpose?

To investigate the drivers of authentic corporate purpose Burson-Marsteller and IMD business school conducted an in-depth, qualitative study of over 200+ executives: How authentic is your corporate purpose?. Of all those surveyed a third had difficulty identifying a single company with an authentic corporate purpose, believing most to simply ‘talk the talk’ or not effectively communicating when they also ‘walked the walk’. This highlights the need for these orgainsiation to revise their communications strategies.

The survey also finds a gap between an organisation’s corporate purpose and the attitudes and behaviours of staff. While most respondents believed their company had an authentic corporate purpose, they also admitted to not always relying on this purpose when making decisions. The report suggests that without considering corporate purpose in all decision making, it can never truly be seen as authentic, leading the company to increased cynicism.

Finally, the study made a significant discovery – that there was no one organisation that stood out to respondents as having the best authentic corporate strategy. With no one company most exemplifying authenticity, it opens up a lot of potential for an organisation to emerge as the champion of authentic corporate purpose in the future.

Read the full report by Burson-Marsteller and IMD here.

Image: Thinkstock

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