Who Leads Purpose Integration at your Company? 

New Job Trend in Purpose-Driven Business

By Mary Ellen Schaafsma, Director, Social Purpose Institute

As momentum builds with more and more businesses defining a social purpose as their reason for being (24 companies so far via our very own Social Purpose Institute), there is a risk that the Purpose becomes a tagline or the wrap-around for a CSR strategy. This is called Purpose-Washing. Management consulting firm Korn Ferry conducted research into the critical conditions for true social purpose. They found that within successful social purpose companies who are achieving financial and social results, internal drivers are essential. In these firms:

  • CEOs or front-line managers embrace purpose-guided leadership and decision-making.
  • Their people bring their whole selves to work. The corporate culture is reflective of human communities.
  • A pervasive commitment to purpose can be seen in every part of the organization—purpose is practiced and enabled in all roles and departments.

Yet, this transition doesn’t happen overnight. Recently we have seen an uptick in Purpose Positions within leading companies to help foster this corporate culture.  Here are two that have recently caught our attention in Vancouver:

  • BC Lotteries Corporation (BCLC) is seeking a VP of Social Purpose and Stakeholder Engagement. As spotted in the job profile: “BCLC seeks a broader, more holistic social purpose mandate. The company is positioned to leverage its long-standing commitment to corporate social responsibility to carve out a new social purpose and bring it to life across the organization. This is a newly reconfigured role with a fresh mandate to define the company’s core social purpose ambition and secure partnerships that will position the organization as a leader among Crown corporations and in the gambling and entertainment industries.”
  • The company is also recruiting a VP of People and Culture who is responsible for fostering the company’s social purpose by providing strategic leadership across all HR functional areas, including leadership and organizational development, health and wellness, diversity and inclusion, social purpose, and employee engagement.

One of the large Canadian banks, CIBC, also has an EVP of Purpose, Brand and Marketing whose mandate includes establishing a “purpose-driven culture that defines who we are internally and externally”

The federal crown corporation, BDC, has a Director of Purpose Entrepreneurship, and PWC has a Chief Purpose Officer.

What hiring trends are you seeing in purpose-driven companies? Who are you hiring to help embed your social purpose across your business and business ecosystem? We’d love to hear from you!

And, if your firm has a social purpose it would like help implementing in order to realize these brand and impact benefits and avoid purpose-washing, we offer Vancouver-based firms a year-long cohort program. Our team is here to help you with that as we work together to grow the social purpose business movement across Canada and beyond!

Social Purpose InstituteMary Ellen Schaafsma

Mary Ellen is the Director of the Social Purpose Institute and United Way of the Lower Mainland. She is dedicated to fostering Social Purpose in businesses – across the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley — to help companies benefit from the act of installing Social Purpose at their core, creating tangible and meaningful community benefits. Mary Ellen has a Master in Health Administration from the University of Ottawa and a Certificate in Social Innovation from SFU.

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