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Organizational Change
B2B Companies Facing ‘Paradox’ When It Comes to Implementing Purpose

New report finds 86% of B2B organizations recognizing business case for purpose; but not yet realizing significant impacts for growth via culture, operations, societal engagement.

A new report finds that B2B companies overwhelmingly believe it is essential to bring a sense of purpose to their organizations, but most lack the critical knowledge and capabilities necessary to activate successful purpose-oriented initiatives.

Building on a recent trend exemplified by the Business Roundtable’s redefinition of the purpose of a corporation in 2019, Larry Fink’s most recent CEO letters and the 2020 Davos Manifesto on the Universal Purpose of a Company, The B2B Purpose Paradox — a collaboration by the ANACarol Cone ON PURPOSE, and the Harris Poll — reveals that 86 percent of B2B companies recognize purpose as important to growth, but they are still working out how to implement their purpose so that it influences business and social outcomes. Only 24 percent said purpose is embedded into their business to the point of influencing innovation, operations and their engagement with society — hence, the "B2B Purpose Paradox."

"B2B companies are far more advanced in their purpose journeys than we expected,” said Carol Cone, CEO of Carol Cone ON PURPOSE. “Yet there is a significant gap between companies with a Stated Purpose — their reason for being, beyond profits; and their Activated Purpose — one that is fully embedded in the organization to influence culture, innovation, operations, and engagement in society."

The report, which defines purpose as "a company's reason for being beyond profits that guides its business growth and impact on society," examines several examples of B2B companies putting their Purpose into practice. For example, GAF — North America’s largest roofing manufacturer — understands the importance of strong communities for its sustained success; and seeks to make grassroots, community-driven impact in the areas where its employees live and work. To this end, GAF has created a new initiative, Community Matters; and has established strategic partnerships with several nonprofits to maximize its impact. The company’s brand purpose, “We protect what matters most,” guides engagement with all of its stakeholders — GAF engages with the communities through donation of its products, time and expertise; and cash grants focused on three core objectives: helping neighbors in need, creating disaster resilience and building community.

Read more highlights from the B2B Purpose Paradox and download the report here.