Recently I had the privilege of joining a panel on Purpose, speaking alongside Sally Allan, CMO at Wealthify and Robin Nuttall, Partner and specialist in ESG at McKinsey.
As a change comms specialist, where much of my work involves influencing behaviour in organisations, I felt that “positive action” means addressing the “say, do” gap. Because, stating a Purpose is not the same as being purposeful.
BrewDog is a great example of an organisation not acting on its Purpose promises. In the summer, ex-employees came together calling themselves “Punks with Purpose” – Punks being a term widely used within Brewdog - to whistle-blow on the company’s toxic culture and the gap of what they were saying vs. doing, causing a severe knock to their reputation. Punks with Purpose is now an activist organisation turning to other toxic brands.
When organisations begin their Purpose-led journey, they’ll typically start by defining their Purpose statement.
For one of our clients, it was about: How to get 15,000 people, working across world, to understand the Purpose deeply enough - individually and collectively - so that they know what to do and most importantly, want to take action?
The answer lies in understanding human behaviour - how we’re influenced by both rational and emotive levers before we can take action and ‘do’.
Interestingly, one hot question asked at the event, was; “What are the frequent barriers to the ‘say-do’ purpose gap?”
Paul Polman – the ex-CEO of Unilever renowned for kick starting Purpose-led commercial businesses - was once asked what’s needed for Purpose driven organisations. He said, courage.
Leaders need courage, determination and conviction to see their Purpose promises through.
In summary, stating purpose and being purposeful are not the same thing. Behaviour change does have a big role to fill that ‘say, do’ gap!