Purpose powers profitability
Growing numbers of businesses are embracing sustainable purpose to drive accelerated business growth.
The role of business purpose is changing. Traditionally, purpose has been about maximising profits. However, there’s growing evidence that organisations integrating sustainability into their purpose and brand are helping to transform not only their company’s performance, but their employee’s motivation too.
According to the book Firms of Endearment, over a 15-year period brands with an ethical purpose out-performed – by a factor of 14 to one – businesses with leading shares listed in the Standard and Poor’s 500 index .
Here we look at some UK businesses that have harnessed the power of sustainable purpose to flourish and grow.
Making sustainable living commonplace
Multinational company Unilever has adopted a new vision for its work, that it describes as “a new way of doing business – one that delivers growth by serving society and the planet.” The purpose behind this new vision is equally simple: “to make sustainable living commonplace.”
Unilever has proven the business case for sustainability, with the firm’s ‘Sustainable Living’ brands accounting for a record 70% of its turnover growth in 2017 and growing 46% faster than the rest of the business.
The Dutch-Anglo firm revealed that by the end of 2017, 109 of its manufacturing sites were using 100% renewable grid electricity, accounting for 65% of total grid electricity consumption across the company, and that of these 109 sites, 15 were carbon neutral.
Sustainable customer relationships
Based in Cardigan, Wales, Hiut Denim has a purpose in mind: to ‘do one thing well.’ And the company only does one thing: make jeans.
Purpose has helped Hiut enjoy great success, despite spending little on advertising, because the firm’s embedded the sustainability of the brand into its purpose.
Many people regard the firm’s denim trousers – signed by the ‘Grand Masters’ who make them – as the best in the world. The company’s so committed to its purpose that there’s a free lifetime repair service for any jeans they’ve ever made. That means the company has minimal waste as well as a very sustainable relationship with customers.
The company’s co-founder, David Hieatt said “We have a backorder waiting list for three months. We are having two more people in and we’re moving to a new factory.”
Low Costa Mill, which runs a collection of seven holiday cottages in the Yorkshire Moors, is another business enjoying success through a strong purpose. The cottages run on a mix of self-generated energy and renewable electricity provided by Haven Power.
By embedding sustainability into the purpose of the brand, Low Costa Mill achieved Gold Eco Leader status on TripAdvisor. This not only boosted the firm’s overall profile, but also drove more customers to book holidays. Dave Goodfellow, the owner, has said that being more energy efficient has let the company enhance its offering while reducing overall operational costs.
Dave Goodfellow, owner of Low Costa Mill, said “Being supplied by Haven Power for the last three years has been a pleasure. Low Costa Mill Holiday Cottages are proud to be supplied with renewable energy from Haven Power.”
So, businesses everywhere are integrating sustainability into the heart of their business. Far from costing the earth, these purposes are actively helping companies play their part in driving social impact while increasing profits, customer relationships and innovation.
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