These days, the only constant is constant change. People are on the move from rural regions to densely populated cities, straining urban infrastructures and vital resources. Economies are in flux — once-discounted markets in developing countries will soon dominate trends and needs. Migration is an everyday reality for millions of people — the workforce must be retooled to accommodate greater diversity. Climate change and population growth have led to increased demand for energy, water and food. Technological breakthroughs are opening up investment opportunities and governing relationships with partners and consumers — everyone is expected to connect in real-time.
These global megatrends are happening faster than anyone anticipated and requiring us to create broader meaning behind how we do business. We need a new understanding of organizational purpose. Organizations used to talk about mission and vision. These are goals. We must now, instead, define and strive to realize our purpose. Rather than a goal, purpose is a reason for being (and working). Organizations that don’t align their purpose with megatrends may put their sustainability at risk.
Corporate responsibility can be the connector helping to redefine purpose, linking what is happening in the macro business environment with megatrends to make these relevant and inspiring to an organization. At PwC, we spend a lot of time thinking about the connections between the macro business landscape, megatrends, and sustainability (for firms and communities). We understand that millennials — the more than 80 million young adults who will comprise the majority of the workforce by 2020 — value making a positive difference in the world over professional recognition and are eager to develop new skills and gain new experience. In other words, purpose matters to them.
We have a great opportunity now to connect these intersecting drivers, needs and values. How do we find ways to bridge the gap between personal behavior and interests, and the understanding of — and commitment to — a firm’s purpose? How do we build trust in our society, solve problems, and sustain our work and our environments?
Nearly 90 percent of PwC’s workforce participates in Corporate Responsibility efforts and we have to ask why. What motivates our co-workers and colleagues: a desire to work for something greater than self-promotion? A need to witness and elevate the human condition?
The earth’s natural resources are finite. The human capacity to innovate is infinite. A clear sense of purpose inspires innovation, and innovative approaches and solutions will sustain us on the job from day to day and for the future.
This article was contributed by PwC.