Propelling the Canadian Purpose Economy eBook

Social purpose business is taking off in Canada. The first national virtual dialogue on social purpose business, the Propelling Purpose Summit: The Road to the Purposeful Economy, November 17-18, 2021, helped propel the move to a future where social purpose is mainstream. The results of this national dialogue are captured in this eBook designed to help business leaders, investors, policymakers, academics, media, civil society, and social purpose professionals grasp the potential of this burgeoning movement – and find their place in it. We are at a historical moment where the potential exists to design an economy whose purpose is long-term well-being for all on a thriving planet. It needs accelerators from across the economy, provinces, sectors, and communities to realize this potential.

Check out the eBook to find the role you can play to change the course of business for good.

What is Social Purpose?

Social purpose is an emerging trend in business – where companies define their reason for being in social terms, and place it at the core of their operations so it becomes the engine that powers the business and contributes to a better world.

It gives companies a competitive advantage, helps them navigate turbulent times, and creates new opportunities for maximizing profits and building shareholder value. Social Purpose is good for business and for society.

What we do

Through a mix of expert facilitation and peer-to-peer learning, the United Way BC Social Purpose Institute offers cohort-based, strategy-focused programs and support designed to help businesses uncover or refine their core, societal reason for being.

Our programs, workshops and services have been designed to help business leaders identify and leverage their organization’s social purpose to create positive change in their community and build new value for employees, customers, partners, suppliers and shareholders – all with a view of strengthening their business.

“As a social purpose company, we’re harnessing all our enterprise capabilities, talents, and resources to build better futures together. We believe social purpose is the business model the world needs to tackle the complex, systemic issues we face today, and are excited to support efforts to grow the purpose economy in Canada.”
Maureen Young, Vice President Social Purpose
Coast Capital Savings

Social Purpose Business Services

Social Purpose Innovators

Define and articulate your business’ unique social purpose for progress and growth.

Social Purpose Implementers

Guiding businesses with an articulated social purpose through the process of implementing and fully integrating that purpose.

Professional Development

Equip your staff teams to apply your social purpose in their roles/functions and much more.

Some of the companies we’ve worked with

Visit our Alumni Directory for a full list.

In an increasingly digital and global market, it’s no longer good enough to just make or deliver the best products. Instead, more and more businesses are being judged by the values they hold and by the effect they’re having in the larger community. And today’s employees and consumers choose to do business with companies that make the world a better place.

Learn how you can unleash your company’s full potential:

Why Social Purpose Matters for your Business

  • “To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society … Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose.”

    Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock BlackRock is the largest investment firm in the world, managing $6 trillion in assets, January 2018
  • "Purpose driven companies who have the best interest of communities and all of their stakeholders in mind have always been more sustainably successful over the long term than businesses that don't."

    John Izzo, Author Author of The Purpose Revolution; June 4, 2018
  • “There are social problems to be solved and businesses solve problems. Businesses are innovators and the problems we have are numerous so it’s really about honing in on those [societal] problems and attacking them with some determination. I think that’s the heart to why businesses are successful through their Social Purpose.”

    Richard Kouwenhoven, CEO of Hemlock Printers Social Purpose Innovators Alumni
  • “Defining our business' social purpose is like discovering our North Star. While a few may have been steering toward its general direction, mapping it out and stating it explicitly enables all employees, management, customers and suppliers to be engaged and aligned towards our common aspirational goal.”

     Social Purpose Business Innovator participant
  • Out of eight respondents to the question of “what business benefits have you observed because of working on identifying your social purpose?” all eight reported short-term impacts. These included: Positive employee feedback, innovative ideas generated, positive customer reaction, and new partnerships attracted.

  • The SPI program provided a clear roadmap for discovering our purpose and exceptional guidance on how to implement it. Having inspiring purpose practitioners reinforce the learning from the thought leaders at SPI made the experience that much more motivating, memorable, and meaningful.

    Liz McBeth, President Armour Valve Ltd.
  • Partnering with the United Way and participating in their Innovators and Implementers Programs was exactly where we needed to start as we worked to discover our social purpose. As a local credit union, having a social purpose was somewhat implied, but what did it really mean for us and our stakeholders? The programs provided a step-by-step guide to uncovering what really mattered to us a credit union and helped to create alignment with our overall strategy.

    Bobby Dhillon, Chief Marketing Officer Gulf and Fraser Credit Union
  • After a serendipitous meeting with the UW Social Purpose program team, we discovered what we didn't know was missing. Cool Air Rentals has experienced significant growth over the past few years and we came to realize we needed to articulate our ‘why’ to stakeholders. Until now, our business has been existing with an unspoken, undefined culture in the most beautiful of ways. The Social Purpose journey allowed us to encapsulate our core to share with all, creating deeper connections and articulating our value within our industry and beyond.

    Kimberlee Alexander Cool Air Rentals