For something greater
As businesses seek to create a better workplace for their employees, an alternative view of purpose surfaces. Where once many businesses functioned primarily to make money, the human need for something greater drives businesses today to examine their motivation, long-term goals, and overall purpose outside of money alone. The days of focusing on only the bottom-line seem to be waning.
Let’s be honest, though, when companies are in business to make a profit and provide a purpose aren’t they simply acting like any other steward of society? As humans, we all yearn for some purpose in life…to question why we are here, what we are working for, and where we are going. Why should businesses operate with a different philosophy than the people that make them run?
As this frame of thought has risen in popularity, some traditional business leaders have dismissed these pressures as Millennials’ “inexperience” or “naivety.” However, Larry Fink, Chairman and CEO of BlackRock, shook things up when he pointed out that businesses should do more than simply make a profit, but should also make a positive contribution to society. When he wrote this in his 2018 open letter to CEOs, business leaders began to turn their heads because BlackRock is the largest money management firm in the world, with more than $6 trillion in assets.
With this, the business mentality of instant gratification, short term profit planning, and producing for immediate needs began to shift. The growing trend actually shows that companies who operate with a purpose to improve society are making more money, and maintaining more productive, happier employees. A recent survey even showed that 87% of Millennials and 94% of Gen Z say they would rather buy from a company addressing social or environmental problems than one that is not. 89% of Gen Z say that they would switch to brands associated with a good cause, given similar price and quality. Most of the statistics today study Millennials and Gen Z, but isn’t the desire to work for something greater a part of all of us?
Truly, even when people work only to bring home a paycheck, the money that they earn represents an opportunity for them to improve their lives and the lives of those they care for. That money becomes a vehicle for their own pursuit of purpose after they clock out. It’s true that not everyone needs a greater purpose than feeling like they’ve executed what is expected of them and they are getting fairly compensated for it. The question for today is: what keeps those employees at one company if another offers more?
The majority of people entering the workforce in the last 20 years would leave to find a company where they feel they are making a difference in their own lives and the lives of others. Of course, they need an income, but the value of a job that incorporates making money and changing lives simply outweighs making money. This influences how they spend, too. People choose to spend their hard-earned money with brands they know are working toward something more meaningful than just the bottom line.
Companies and brands become more attractive to employees and consumers alike when profit and purpose go hand-in-hand. These are brands that we can relate to because often, purpose-driven companies are the most transparent and authentic. Their stories become a part of who we are, where we are going, and what we are striving for as a society.
Let's keep pushing towards something greater.
Jarod Brames found his sense of purpose through his love of the outdoors. He gained an appreciation for the natural beauty of plant life—especially mushrooms—by exploring the woods of Southern Indiana. His love of the environment eventually led him to commit his daily work to support and sustain the beauty of nature as well. With Jarod's help, OFS continually seeks to better protect and support our environment.
As Director of Sustainability, Jarod Brames serves as a comprehensive resource and subject matter specialist on sustainability issues affecting Sales and Marketing, Trade Compliance, Corporate Risk, Green Building Design and Construction and Environmental & Social Responsibility topics for OFS. His primary function is to frame, develop and implement organizational sustainability and wellbeing strategies for long-term internal business support and external market communications. He is a LEED Green Associate and a WELL AP. Jarod’s curiosity about our natural systems drives him to play his role in helping OFS and its partner organizations protect those systems and protect the health & wellbeing of the people that live within them.