The first step to being authentic is to have a clear understanding of what you are staying true to.  This really comes back to purpose. The tangible difference that a well-articulated purpose can have is becoming increasingly well understood.

The Harvard Business Review shared some research which showed that if a company has a strong corporate purpose, its employees will feel greater meaning and impact in their jobs[1].  This is backed up by Gallup’s findings that 88% of millennials would stay at their jobs more than five years if they were satisfied with the company’s sense of purpose[2]. With 66% of your workforce likely to be millennials, this is significant employee engagement.

Why does this matter?

Highly engaged people drive innovation and creativity, not to mention better client experiences.  An authentic purpose not only sets the strategic direction and vision for the business, but it attracts and retains talent. Be in no doubt, companies are competing on exactly that – to attract and retain the best talent.

Although many businesses and brands have accepted purpose as a strategic priority, several of these are struggling to link it directly to their company’s culture. Yet purpose can only really be unlocked fully through people, motivated behind a purpose-driven culture.

Undoubtedly, in the same way that brand is not the sole responsibility of marketing, culture and employee engagement is far more than the role of HR.  As people demand more transparency, more authenticity and more purpose from the businesses they work for, HR certainly needs to have a seat at the strategic table, however it must also come from the top. The CEO needs to be authentic to that purpose.

Getting it right

The benefits of getting this right become clearer and more tangible by going back to Harvard Business Review. Its data shows that companies with high levels of purpose outperform the market by 5%–7% per year. This is on par with companies that have best-in-class governance and innovative capabilities. They also grow faster and have higher profitability. However, the link between purpose and profitability is present only if senior management has successfully shared that sense of purpose, as well as clarity on how to achieve it.

I believe it is our job as marketers to ensure that senior management do achieve that clarity and authenticity and bring it to life. Understanding the ways in which culture and purpose are linked, and how they drive your brand forward is crucial.  We must help gain alignment around purpose and ensure we deliver on that purpose at every touchpoint. We need to infuse it into our cultures and help it motivate our people forward.

It is fascinating that at the same time marketing needs to be savvy on regulation, technical on product, innovative on tech, commercial on distribution, we also need to be motivating on culture, differentiating on brand, consistent on comms and authentic on purpose. It is not for the faint-hearted!

We are right at the centre and highly involved in the relationship between purpose and profitability. I’m delighted to see that purpose is being understood better and talked about actively between CEOs and marketing heads. Now more than ever organisations are focused on purpose, brand and culture, helping to attract and engage talent and investors alike.

The next generation of investors are helping us achieve the right balance. Not only are they driving changes in our process and our products, but they are influencing the way we identify as a business.

People want to put their money with businesses they understand and trust, and where they can believe in the central purpose and proposition. It’s essential we get this right as marketers, to give investors the confidence in our authenticity.