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Craft a Measurable Company Purpose

As companies write their purpose statements they have to ensure that almost all their key stakeholders get an explicit mention and promises which are measurable. Way too many still concentrate on just one band of stakeholders, usually investors, while some which have expanded the scope of these purpose often usually do not explicitly acknowledge other key stakeholders aside from track key performance metrics that connect with non-financial stakeholders.

Today, businesses all over the world are wanting to define their known reasons for existence and effect on society, and several will work hard to build up a statement of corporate purpose.

As you do that for the company, though, its worth heading back to the U.S. Business Roundtables statement on corporate purpose, which says: Whilst every of our individual companies serves its corporate purpose, we share a simple commitment to all or any of our stakeholders. The statement identifies these stakeholders: customers, employees, suppliers, the communities where companies operate, and investors.

A companys purpose will need something for several these groups, and what it includes each ought to be clearly measurable, because measuring something draws focus on it. Whats more your company will undoubtedly be held accountable by way of a selection of stakeholders, commentators, activists, in addition to traditional and social media marketing. In the event that you make big claims in your purpose statement, having the ability to indicate results will provide you with credibility. As you craft your statement, therefore, I would recommend that you:

Identify your key stakeholders.

Due to the push towards corporate purpose, companies are broadening the number of stakeholders they regard as key. They were once narrowly thought as customers, employees, and shareholders. Now the list more often includes suppliers, who’ve been habitually overlooked by businesses but who, generally in most industries, are fundamental.

To be certain, purpose statements have expanded in scope within the last few years. As you example, take Woolworths, Australias largest supermarket chain with an increase of than 200,000 staff and much more than 3,000 stores. A couple of years ago, it stated: We have been centered on shareholder returns. It now reads: To generate better experiences together for an improved tomorrow. But with the inclusiveness often comes a particular vagueness.

Ideally an objective statement will identify all key stakeholders. Take Rio Tinto, the worlds third largest mining company, operating in about 35 countries, with an increase of than 60,000 employees. In his contribution to the most recent annual report, Dominic Barton, the incoming chair explicitly recognizes all five sets of stakeholders:

Through our products, people, partnerships and technologies, we try to help enable a decarbonising world, while maintaining our concentrate on capital discipline, pursuing growth, and delivering attractive returns to shareholders Building even stronger relationships with this customers, partners and local communities will undoubtedly be an important section of this journey, then one that I’m particularly passionate about. I’m also keen to make sure that we develop a safe, respectful and inclusive work place.

Youll have your personal industry language for stakeholders, needless to say, and you ought to stick to that, e.g., clients or patients or students rather than customers. Also, not absolutely all five types of stakeholders from the business enterprise Roundtable will undoubtedly be relevant. For instance, if youre a not-for-profit or volunteer organization you almost certainly wont have shareholders. If youre a specialist service firm, suppliers may only provide incidentals and therefore not be key.

Make sure your impact metrics align with stakeholder categories.

Its insufficient to just notice that you be determined by a stakeholder. You need to track what youre providing them with. Many companies, even though they do explicitly recognize almost all their key stakeholders, dont already have metrics for them.

By Rio Tintos own admission the requirements of our customers are central to your operational decision making and quality relationships with this suppliers are vital to make sure that we remain at the forefront of technological and market developments. The companys effect on customers and suppliers arent monitored by the companys listed key performance indicators. Of the companys nine key performance metrics, one, greenhouse gas emissions, is pertinent to stakeholder communities, and you can find safety and gender diversity measures for employees. Another six are financial.

Actually, of the eight large Australian companies I viewed, only 1, Woolworths, provided a complete house of stakeholder measures. As shown below, they tracked three for every of the business enterprise Roundtable five stakeholder groups. Customer metrics, for instance, included a net promoter score, employee metrics included a diversity rating, and communities metrics included a carbon emissions and recycling measures.

Exhibit: Stakeholder Measures at Woolworths

In its 2021 annual report, the Australian supermarket chain identified three measures for every of the U.S. Business Roundtable stakeholders, as shown in this table.

Stakeholder measures


  • Net profit after tax
  • Return on funds employed
  • Level of full-year dividend


  • Group Voice-of-Customer NPS (Net Promoter Score)
  • Customers served typically weekly
  • Online visits weekly

Suppliers (Partners)

  • Percentage rating on Voice of Supplier survey
  • Amount of established partnerships
  • Amount of Quantium-strengthened data and analytics partnerships

Employees (Team)

  • Amount paid into Woolworths Future of Work Fund
  • Employer of preference citation
  • Gold-tier status for LGBTQ+ inclusion


  • Carbon emission reduction from 2015
  • Tonnes of organic waste diverted from landfill
  • Quantity of total community contributions

. . .

Employees along with other stakeholders want to organizations to handle results beyond narrow corporate financials. This trend is really a modern and ever-present phenomenon. The organization world, represented by the BRT, has realigned to take this into consideration. Its time and energy to test thoroughly your purpose statement and corporate metrics via the questions Ive applied here.

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