Philippa Cross and Hannah Zimmerman
Published 1 year ago.
About a 6 minute read.
Image: Tony's Chocolonely
/ This article is sponsored by
In a world where the mistreatment of employees, supply chain workers and/or the planet will quickly go public
through a social post or a company review, ensure your organization’s internal beliefs and behaviors align with your external actions and communications.
Employees want to work for a brand that aligns with their values: 72 percent of
people say they want to work for a company that aligns with their personal
values; and they are 12 times more likely to recommend their company if it leads
with purpose. Talent acquisition and
has never been more critical, as the World Economic Forum
that 20 percent of the workforce will quit in 2022. But less than half of
business leaders surveyed in our latest report, Purpose Up: Doubling Down in Tough Times,
rated their performance on the issues that matter most to employees.
For the last several years,
— in partnership with the investment firm,
Jefferies — have leveraged their unique
perspectives as modern consumer experts and investment analysts, to research
consumer and business sentiment around brand involvement in environmental and
social issues. The findings show that consumers not only want to buy from
purpose-led brands; they also want to work for brands that have their purpose
baked into their DNA. That requires a brand to define what matters.
Finding a purpose that’s right for a brand requires three key steps:
The first step is understanding the material risks or opportunities for your
business. Environmental, social and governance (ESG) frameworks such as GRI
and the UN Sustainable Development
Goals can help you identify
sector challenges. Interviews with your
employees, customers and nonprofits can also help you identify challenges in
your supply chain and community. Brand purpose is the distillation of these two
inquiries that refine and help you prioritize action, while communicating
effectively inside and out.
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“Finding your brand purpose should be rooted in both what’s material to your
business and what matters to your stakeholders,” says Philippa Cross,
Sustainability Lead at Barkley. “ESG can give you clarity on your key risks and
opportunities; while brand purpose helps you focus.”
was just a beverage alternative for the lactose intolerant until CEO Toni
Petersson took a stand on the climate benefits of plant-based foods,
transforming Oatly from a local Swedish brand to a global behemoth in the
process. But Oatly’s purpose is more than a whim of the CEO — it’s baked into a
product truth that’s a material opportunity for the brand. Because plant-based
alternatives have a lower footprint than dairy, this has become the clarion call
of this brand and the subject of multiple
lawsuits from the dairy industry — which
objects to being called out on it.
Meanwhile, Tony’s Chocolonely is an impact
brand that makes chocolate, founded by three Dutch journalists who discovered
that the chocolate industry largely ran on child labor and modern slavery
Tony’s purpose has been to address these twin social risks of child labor and
modern slavery head on. It’s a bold mission backed up through its strategy of
leading by example, and inspiring both
If you want your employees to become super
for your brand, your purpose needs to be so simple, they could repeat it to
their friends and families at a bar on the weekend.
Oatly’s mission statement is to “always deliver products that have maximum
nutritional value and minimal environmental impact.” While helping people
enhance their lives by contributing to the long-term future of the planet, their
purpose is an easy platform to advocate for.
statement, “to make chocolate
100% slave free,” is its North Star. Through creative packaging that calls out
its competitors’ alarming practices or partnerships such as a recent product
partnership with Ben &
Tony’s is out to prove that business as a force for good should be the norm, not
If you want your employees to believe it, they need to see you do things that
back it up. While Tony’s purpose is impressive on its own, it trickles through
the organization’s culture and creates an anchor for the brand. By paying a
higher price for its cocoa beans to ensure the farmers are earning a living
and even transparently showing where it has failed, Tony’s is holding itself and
others accountable — and the employees feel the commitment.
“We believe that what we show to the outside world serves as a magnet to what we
want to attract,'' says Aidaly Sosa, Head of Marketing, US at Tony’s
Chocolonely. “We benefit from the brand image we have out there; and it brings
to us the type of talent we have coming in.”
Oatly, on the other hand, is positioning itself as a driving force for
sustainably changing our fractured food system; it wants every action it makes,
inside and out, to reflect that purpose.
“The action you make is super important; and it has to saturate your company
from your operations and core business to your future scouting,” says Heidi
Hackemer, Executive Director of
Oatly’s Climate/Culture Lab. “This is investing in where your future can go and
building in line with your values while scaling the business.”
Oatly keeps a consistent finger on the pulse of its employees' and supply
chain’s relationship to its sustainability initiatives; and it incentivizes
leaders to prioritize sustainability by linking it to its performance
This creates an environment where employees are both allowed and encouraged to
live the brand's purpose.
Ensure your organization’s internal beliefs and behaviors align with your
external actions and communications. We live in a world where the mistreatment
of employees, supply chain workers and/or the planet will quickly go public
through a social post or a company review. Transparency and consistency from all
levels of the organization are crucial.
To learn more about Barkley’s findings, read the report
or attend our session at SB'22 San Diego
on Tuesday, October 18 to hear more from our panelists that include Aidaly
Sosa, Head of Marketing at Tony’s Chocolonely and Simon Mainwaring from We
Published Oct 12, 2022 11am EDT / 8am PDT / 4pm BST / 5pm CEST
Formerly working in the advertising world in Kansas City, Hannah Zimmerman has now married her past experience with her passion for sustainability. When she isn't chasing her four-year-old daughter or helping companies along on their sustainability journey through consulting, reporting, communications and certifications, she is working on her master's in Sustainability through Harvard.
This article, produced in cooperation with the Sustainable Brands editorial team, has been paid for by one of our sponsors.