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Organizational Change
Social Purpose at BCLC:
What We’ve Learned and Where We’re Going

Even though a social-purpose model seemed like a natural fit for BCLC, we knew there would be many questions to answer before we could start to deliver on a social purpose. Now, we are reflecting on some of the key steps and insights gained through our approach.

When the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) first set out on our journey toward social purpose in 2020, our leadership knew there would be a lot to learn and a long way to go.

Even though a social-purpose model of business seemed like a natural fit for the company, BCLC recognized there would be many questions to answer before we could start to deliver on a social purpose. To get going, we engaged other social-purpose leaders and other stakeholders, including our own people and the many partners in our network.

Now, we are reflecting on some of the key steps taken early in our transformation and sharing some of the insights gained through our cooperative approach.

“For us, ‘generating win-wins for the greater good’ means collaborating to create value for all people that interact with BCLC – and value even beyond those interactions,” said Chris Fairclough, Director of Social Purpose and Community & Stakeholder Engagement at BCLC. “Contributing to the resources that are available to new social-purpose companies and those making the transition has been a special part of the movement we’re trying to help build.”

Deep listening and locating alignment

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Whether we were determining our social purpose, considering our marketing or revisiting our employee lifecycle, there was one element of the process that couldn’t be skipped: deep listening. As we have learned through these stages and from other social-purpose leaders, deep listening invites people to wholly engage in a dialogue that won’t just amount to pages of notes tossed aside and disregarded. Instead, deep listeners take thoughtful feedback to heart and use the insight they gain to inform the path forward.

This past April, BCLC engaged with the team at Sustainable Brands® to host a Social Purpose and Brand Agency Summit with all our marketing agencies to foster collaboration and knowledge sharing. From deep listening comes understanding; and with understanding, it becomes easier to determine what brings people together and locate alignment within your network.

Community-building and telling stories

Further to deep listening, the very idea that a social-purpose company motivates its people and consumers based on an emotional connection to their values was discussed in the first research paper commissioned by BCLC, Marketing on Purpose.

We continue to consider the learnings in our own marketing practices. The transformation to a social-purpose company necessitates a shift from traditional ways of advertising to new ones that inspire behaviour change, foster loyalty and build a community that gathers around the cause. BCLC has enhanced how we integrate storytelling within our internal communications as one way of reaching people with our social purpose.

As anyone working in this space will tell you, social purpose can’t be lip service alone. But, when storytelling is done right, it’s more than just words: it’s another element of what brings social purpose to life. As we are learning, storytelling strengthens your audience’s connection to what you’re accomplishing through your purpose – and it can make them great champions for your brand, too.

Culture as a catalyst and empowering our people

When BCLC declared our social purpose, we knew that our people would play a significant role in helping to generate win-wins across the organization and beyond. We knew that embedding social purpose into company culture was essential to introducing and sustaining belief in the company’s core values among our people.

We have since integrated purpose into our people and culture programs in a handful of impactful ways. As we have started to experience, social-purpose companies that make these investments into their people and foster a sense of belonging within their culture will see their employees become great ambassadors for their purpose, as well.

Committing to the journey and learning along the way

Everyone knows it: The journey to social purpose is long term. Transformation takes a sustained effort by the entire organization – both top-down and bottom-up; to stay consistent, continue momentum and keep on the trail of that north star.

“While BCLC is encouraged by what we’ve started, we’re even more motivated by the massive opportunities that still exist to manifest our social purpose, both inside and outside the organization,” Fairclough said.

Driving social purpose through BCLC’s overarching strategy and threading it through every pillar of the business is key to keeping the door open to those opportunities.

While we continue to consider social purpose from the macro of our corporate strategy and the micro of our daily decisions, another opportunity on the horizon is a review into our product and experiential offerings.

“We’ve always considered how looking at each and every one of our products with a purpose lens is an important way we could deliver on that stated purpose,” said Richard Fenster, Director of Corporate Strategy at BCLC. “This is where the rubber will really start to meet the road. We have a chance here to create more positive social impacts through our products and operations, and that’s a chance we’re eager to take.”

With plans to keep maturing as a social-purpose company – by listening deeply, telling stories, nurturing culture, conducting research, sharing knowledge and more – at BCLC, our eyes are firmly on the social purpose trail ahead with one foot always forward.