10 definitions of Purpose by CEOs


by GoodUp Info

Purpose is hot. It is at the top of the the agenda for many organisations. But what does it really mean, especially in the business world? What does it mean to have it and to use it? We could give you a straightforward definition, but we’d rather provide you with many different views from CEOs of companies taking major steps with purpose, so you can learn about their vision on purpose.

And if you’re curious to know how to put it into action, follow our Business Purpose Podcast.

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Indra K. Nooyi, CEO Pepsico:

“The blind pursuit of profit at all costs is untenable. It is essential that we make money the right way. After all, if communities suffer as a result of a company’s actions, those returns are not sustainable.” 

Shannon Schuyler, Chief Corporate Responsibility and Purpose Officer, PwC:

“Purpose must go deeper. A purpose-driven company must have purpose as its guidepost — its North Star — for decision-making. And while it is, without a doubt, the imperative of leaders to prioritize the success of their business, they must also understand that employees see purpose quite differently. For them, purpose is a way to bring meaning to their work and understand their contributions both to the company and to society.”

Richard Branson, Founder Virgin Group:

“I think if the people who work for a business are proud of the business they work for, they’ll work that much harder, and therefore, I think turning your business into a real force for good is good business sense as well.”

Marc Benioff, CEO Salesforce:

To be truly successful, companies need to have a corporate mission that is bigger than making a profit.”

“We’ve found that giving employees paid time off to get involved in the community has motivated them tremendously. They feel a greater sense of personal pride and satisfaction—and they have become happier and more productive at work. What some people don’t consider is that this outside work doesn’t just give their lives deeper meaning (which is certainly important), but it provides an excellent training ground as well. I’ve seen how allowing employees to go off and work with nonprofits has polished their leadership and management skills, built networking opportunities, and sparked their creativity—all of which have made them not only more passionate, but more valuable employees. 

Brian Walker, CEO Herman Miller:

“As a for-profit entity, if you’re successful in getting a good return on capital, you will attract more investment. Taking that a step further, if you’re a socially responsible for-profit, and you’re successful in earning a return on capital, you will attract further investment, to create still more value, and be able to have a greater positive impact on society and the world. Essentially being a for-profit creates opportunity for doing greater good. And financial success as a for-profit with a social conscious carries greater credibility with your peers, potentially influencing actions of other businesses.”

John Mackey, CEO Whole Foods:

“Just as people cannot live without eating, so a business cannot live without profits. But most people don’t live to eat, and neither must businesses live just to make profits.”

Dee Hock, CEO Visa:

“Money motivates neither the best people, nor the best in people. It can move the body and influence the mind, but it cannot touch the heart or move the spirit; that is reserved for belief, principle, and morality.”

Mark Weinberger, CEO EY:

“In my view, you have to be a purpose-driven company. People want to do well and do good. They want to understand how they’re making a difference in the world. Things change all the time, but your organization’s purpose transcends any individual product or service.”

Punit Renjen, Global CEO Deloitte:

“An organization’s culture of purpose answers the critical questions of who it is and why it exists. They have a culture of purpose beyond making a profit. An organization’s culture of purpose answers the critical questions of who we are and why we exist through a set of carefully articulated core beliefs. A culture of purpose guides behavior, influences strategy, transcends leaders–and endures.”

Larry Page, CEO of Google:

“If we were motivated by money, we would have sold the company a long time ago and ended up on a beach.”

Do you feel inspired, or at least a little happier when you’ve read Page’s quote? We hope you do. Give us a call when you feel like discussing your company’s purpose.