The Stakeholder Model of Purpose: Integrating ESG, CSR, DEI, and Sustainability

The Stakeholder Model of Purpose

The Stakeholder Model of Purpose, as created by Afdhel Aziz, provides a comprehensive framework to integrate Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), and Sustainability. The model is crucial for businesses aiming to align their purpose with the needs of their stakeholders. Let’s delve into this model and explore how each element fits together to create a holistic approach to purposeful business.

The Core: Purpose

At the heart of the Stakeholder Model of Purpose is Purpose. Purpose defines the core reason your business exists beyond profit. It’s the guiding star that shapes your strategy, culture, and impact. Establishing a clear and compelling purpose is essential for driving meaningful change and inspiring all stakeholders.

  • Mission Statement: Clearly articulate your company’s mission and vision.
  • Core Values: Define and communicate the values that guide your business decisions.
  • Impact Goals: Set ambitious, measurable goals that reflect your purpose.

When purpose is embedded into the DNA of your company, it influences every action and decision, creating a cohesive and motivated organisation.

The First Layer: DEI – Employees

Surrounding purpose is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). DEI initiatives ensure that all employees feel valued, respected, and empowered to contribute their best. This layer is critical for building a vibrant, innovative, and resilient workforce.

  • Inclusive Hiring Practices: Develop recruitment strategies that attract diverse talent.
  • Equity Training Programs: Implement training to address biases and promote equity.
  • Employee Resource Groups: Support groups that foster a sense of belonging and community.

Effective DEI practices enhance employee engagement and drive a culture of inclusion, which is fundamental for achieving broader business goals.

The Second Layer: Cause Marketing – Consumers

Next is Cause Marketing. This layer involves aligning marketing efforts with social causes that resonate with your brand and audience. Cause marketing builds brand loyalty and demonstrates your commitment to societal issues.

  • Campaigns: Design marketing campaigns that highlight your support for relevant social causes.
  • Partnerships: Collaborate with non-profits and community organisations to amplify impact.
  • Customer Engagement: Encourage customers to participate in cause-related initiatives.

By integrating cause marketing into your strategy, you can enhance your brand’s reputation and foster deeper connections with consumers.

The Third Layer: CSR – Society

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) forms the third layer. CSR encompasses the voluntary actions a company takes to address social, economic, and environmental impacts of its operations. It reflects your commitment to ethical practices and community engagement.

  • Community Programs: Invest in initiatives that support local communities.
  • Sustainable Practices: Implement environmentally friendly practices across operations.
  • Employee Volunteering: Encourage and facilitate employee participation in volunteer activities.

CSR activities help build trust with stakeholders and demonstrate your company’s dedication to making a positive impact.

The Fourth Layer: Sustainability – Planet

Enveloping CSR is Sustainability. Sustainability focuses on long-term strategies that ensure the well-being of the planet and future generations. It’s about balancing economic growth with environmental stewardship and social equity.

  • Resource Management: Optimize the use of natural resources to reduce waste and emissions.
  • Sustainable Products: Develop products and services that minimize environmental impact.
  • Circular Economy: Adopt practices that promote reuse, recycling, and regeneration.

Sustainability initiatives ensure that your business operations are not only profitable but also environmentally responsible.

The Outer Layer: ESG – Investors

The outermost layer is Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG). ESG criteria provide a framework for assessing the sustainability and ethical impact of a business. It includes a broad range of metrics used by investors to evaluate companies.

  • Environmental Metrics: Track and report on carbon footprint, energy use, and waste management.
  • Social Metrics: Monitor labor practices, community impact, and customer satisfaction.
  • Governance Metrics: Ensure transparency, ethical practices, and board diversity.

By integrating ESG criteria, companies can enhance their reputation among investors and drive long-term value creation.


The Stakeholder Model of Purpose offers a comprehensive approach to aligning business operations with the needs and expectations of various stakeholders. By integrating Purpose, DEI, Cause Marketing, CSR, Sustainability, and ESG, companies can create a robust framework for achieving lasting impact.

Keep on reading -> 7 ways to boost employee engagement on your sustainability & impact programs

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