Business for Purpose Network (B4PN) Weekly Announcements. #36 August 6, 2021 to #39 August 27, 2021

10 min readNov 17, 2021

Catching up on publishing back issues of the B4PN Weekly Announcements. To have these Weekly Announcements emailed to you please contact me directly. You can also view back issues on LinkedIn.

Weekly Announcement #36. August 6, 2021

#ONE — The Right Case for Diversity at Work

Is McKinsey wrong about the financial benefits of diversity? Many years ago, we would attend CSR-related events and be told that hiring for gender and ethnic diversity at work was “the right thing” to do. Then some powerful research came along from McKinsey showing that firms with “greater racial, ethnic and gender diversity in their leadership tended to perform better financially.”

This article in Quartz at Work by Sarah Todd (July 29, 2021) indicates that “academic research, however, is less clear on whether there is any relationship between diverse leadership and company profits, let alone a causal one.” It is a warning against using profit as the sole reason for advancing diversity and instead falling on other attributes such as “purpose at work is something people are taking really seriously” … MBA students are now “looking for meaning. And diversifying companies as a means of furthering racial justice and gender equality is an extremely meaningful cause.” This led the author to conclude “the most effective tactic for getting them (firms) to make changes may be to simply explain why it’s the right thing to do.” Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

#TWO — Upcoming Webinar Series

A Methodology for Purpose: Full Series Registration. The Cause Effect (based in Australia) is offering an upcoming webinar series (the timing is tough for those of us in North America with sessions being held from 12:30pm- 1:30pm AEST) but if you are keen, register here for these complementary sessions. Sessions:

8/26 — Put purpose at centre of the brand.
9/7 — People & Culture.
9/22 — Partners in Purpose.
10/5 — Marketing & Communications.
10/20 — Customer Experience.
11/3 — Impact and performance.

These align with The Cause Effect’s Path to Purpose Program.

#THREE — Personal Purpose

While the B4PN is focused on issues related to “business and purpose” we are also interested in what this work means for us personally. In How to Discover Your Purpose in Retirement, next avenue, August 2, 2021, Richard J. Leider and David A. Shapiro outline a three-step framework for unlocking your personal purpose: (1) Find out how you want to help; (2) Find out who you want to help and (3) Find out what energizes you (and what drains you).

You can read more on this topic in their book entitled: Who do you want to be when you grow old? The Path of Purposeful Aging — important work, given the changing demographics and the fact that people want to contribute in a meaningful way, regardless of their stage of life.

#FOUR — Leadership Summit

Hosted virtually on November 8–10, 2021, the 2021 Shared Value Leadership Summit offers inspiration, connection and actionable advice for purpose-driven leaders and practitioners from around the globe who are committed to imagining and designing an equitable and inclusive society. This virtual event registration is complementary.

Through the lenses of Economic Inclusion, Access to Health and Climate Action, the Summit will explore how companies can deliver equitable outcomes while also realizing financial success. Speakers will share their experience with bringing corporate purpose to life across industries and geographies.

#FIVE — Latest from the British Academy

Report launch event: Policy and Practice for Purposeful Business. Wednesday, September 22, 2:00–3:30pm (GMT) followed by a series of other sessions on Adapting Business Education to Purpose. Register here. Coro reminds us that even if you can’t make these sessions, be sure to register to get a copy of the recording. The BA is doing groundbreaking work in this area, please do check it out.

quote of the week

“A team that understands their purpose and has the freedom to make decisions within a clear strategic framework will help grow the business — whether the founder’s around or not.” – Brian Scudamore, Forbes, August 4, 2021.


Weekly Announcement #37. August 13, 2021

#ONE — Purpose Demands Authenticity: Not incidentally, Felix won in her own shoes

Social media has been ablaze with stories of US track and field athlete Allyson Felix and her “Nike Pregnancy Story” told in this New York Times Article back in May 22, 2019. Essentially, she received a 70% reduction in her sponsorship around the time of her pregnancy and was not given an allowance for performing at less than her optimal level surrounding the pregnancy. She subsequently ended her contract with Nike and went on to launch her own shoe brand — that she wore during the Tokyo Olympics to become the most decorated US Olympic Track Athlete ever!

This is a warning to brands that don’t live their purpose, as she says “Ironically, one of the deciding factors for me in signing with Nike nearly a decade ago was what I thought were Nike’s core principles. I could have signed elsewhere for more money. But when I met with the company’s leadership in 2010, one woman told me about a Nike-sponsored initiative called the Girl Effect that promoted adolescent girls as the key to improving societies around the globe. By joining Nike, she said, I could help empower women. She told me Nike believed in women and girls, and I believed her. Which is part of why my recent experience has been so heartbreaking.”

#TWO — Upcoming Virtual Event: Transforming Your Company into a Force for Good

Yunus Social Business hosts an “Unusual Talk” with Professor Muhammad Yunus and former Unilever CEO Paul Polman. Monday August 16, 2021 from 8:30 am to 9:30 am EDT. Register for free here to learn about Transforming Your Company into a Force for Good. Thanks for the suggestion Coro Strandberg.

#THREE — Purpose Needs Partnerships

B4PN Founding Member Imagine Canada has released a new report entitled From crisis to opportunity: Case studies of Corporate-Nonprofit Partnerships During COVID-19. Through nine compelling case studies Imagine Canada offers invaluable insights for companies looking to achieve greater impact through their partnerships. Thanks for your leadership here Bruce MacDonald.

#FOUR — Salespeople Benefit from a Focus on Purpose Too

More than money: establishing the importance of a sense of purpose for salespeople. Academic Abstract. Valerie Good, Douglas E. Hughes & Hao Wang. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science (2021)

Much of the current research on salesperson motivation focuses on extrinsic reward expectancy related to compensation, contests, incentives, and quotas. This set of studies finds that “while salespeople want to make money, they also want to make a difference and contribute to society through their work.” The researchers first find qualitative evidence that a sense of purpose is “a significant motivator for salespeople,” before developing quantitative ways to measure and provide further evidence in support of the importance of purpose to this key business function.

#FIVE — A Little Bit Proud

While the B4PN Weekly Announcement generally celebrates the success of our ecosystem, this week we want to share some recognition for our colleagues at MaRS. It’s nice to see a Canadian nonprofit innovation hub listed among some of the world’s biggest companies as we live our purpose “to help innovators create a better world.”

Moderna … General Motors … Siemens … MaRS Discovery District? Fast Company names the world’s 100 best workplaces for innovators, and places MaRS in the company of some of the world’s best-known companies and organizations, recognizing its advocacy on behalf of the ecosystem and its rethinking of its office space in the face of a massive boom in biotech. “These leaders and teams created cultures of innovation and sustained them, even as remote work extended into 2021,” wrote editor-in-chief Stephanie Mehta.

To boot: The Bay Street Bull has named MaRS to its Power 50 list, highlighting Canada’s most impactful companies for 2021.

quote of the week

“Reversing the tide in an organization requires managers who care, who engage, and who give workers a sense of purpose, inspiration and motivation to perform. Such managers give people reason to stay.” – The ‘Great Resignation’ Is Really the ‘Great Discontent’, July 22, 2021.


Weekly Announcement #38. August 20, 2021 Compiled by Marek Nakonieczny / Associate, MaRS Discovery District

#ONE — Une Initiative Française

We often look to like-minded organizations globally for inspiration. Our colleague Coro Strandberg recently came across France-based Communauté des Entreprises a Mission, which was “born from the conviction that companies have an essential role in meeting the societal challenges of the 21st century.” Please visit their website for an abundance of published resources on how to place the resolution of social and environmental challenges at the heart of business models.

#TWO — Upcoming Event: SEWF 2021

This year’s edition of the Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF 2021) is of particular interest as it is “shining a spotlight on Canada, while also addressing priorities and issues for social enterprises around the world.” Set to take place September 28 & 29, priority themes and topics include: climate and circular economy, youth, rural, Indigenous-led social enterprise, gender, social procurement, COVID-19 and economic recovery. Check out the programme, jam-packed with speakers from purpose-driven social enterprises across Canada, and register here.

#THREE — Associations with Purpose?

B4PN Founding Member Coro Strandberg published this article for Boardroom, which “makes the case for associations playing a strengthened role in helping their members contribute to accelerated social good.” Coro provides evidence of associations, professional or otherwise, harnessing their collective power to “repurpose themselves to serve not just their members but society.” Thank you Coro for sharing, and for your thought leadership in this space.

#FOUR — The Meaning Quotient

The ‘meaning quotient’ and what it has to do with work. Sean Fleming, World Economic Forum. August, 2021. According to McKinsey, “productivity could be increased five times if employees experience the ‘meaning quotient’.” So what is it? McKinsey defines it as the extent to which people find purpose in their job. Purpose can help employees do better by their organizations and vice versa. If organizations can live up to the “increasing expectation that businesses should help tackle some of the big challenges facing society,” we might start to see the purpose-shift we seek.

#FIVE — More on The Great Resignation

How to: switch to a career in social impact. Pioneers Post. August 10, 2021. As we’ve mentioned numerous times before, “over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, there’s been a profound shift … and many have begun questioning their personal lives and careers.” The article’s author, a recruitment consultant, provides advice for those looking to use their skills and experience for positive change. Having guided people as they move to purpose-driven roles, she finds that those who make the switch “seem to edge closer to achieving the self-actualization rung of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.” Now more than perhaps ever, talent plays a uniquely pertinent role in business’ potential as a force for good.

quote of the week

“75% of CEOs think that they are [leading] purpose-driven companies, but if you ask their employees, less than 15% think that they’re actually working for a purpose-driven company. And that gap needs to be closed.” – Paul Polman, former Unilever CEO & Imagine Co-founder, Unusual Talks, August 16, 2021.


Weekly Announcement #39. August 27, 2021 Compiled by Marek Nakonieczny / Associate, MaRS Discovery District

#ONE — The Difference Between Purpose and Sustainability

A recent article published in the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance highlights that these terms (Purpose and Sustainability) have hit the mainstream. They are often used interchangeably, but the authors argue against that sentiment: “Purpose comes first. Sustainability can either contribute to it or can detract from it.” Colin Mayer, Peter Moores Professor of Management Studies at Saïd Business School heralds that the purpose of a company “is to produce profitable solutions to problems of people and planet, while at the same time not profiting from producing problems for people or planet.” The belief within is that investing in sustainability while “failing to produce profitable solutions to people and planet,” is failing in purpose. Thank you to our colleague Coro Strandberg for sharing.

#TWO — Upcoming Panel Event:
Moving From Transactional to Transformational Partnerships

Please register here for a panel discussion on the importance of transformational partnerships when it comes to companies reinventing their corporation’s purpose. Join Accelerist Founder and CEO Brittany Hill, and President and CEO of Imagine Canada, Bruce MacDonald (B4PN Founding member) on September 28, 2021 as they lead a discussion on how “companies are up-leveling their commitments to social impact through transformational partnerships.” Thank you Bruce for highlighting this event.

#THREE — Investment’s Focus on Purpose

BlackRock’s 2020–2021 “Investment Stewardship Report” reveals that the world’s largest investor continues to focus on purpose as a driver of long-term success: “Our conviction is that the value of a credible long-term strategy, founded on a clearly articulated purpose, is increasingly recognized by companies. Those that can commit to this will be rewarded by patient, long-term capital and will generate long-term value. Those that do not will face increasing market skepticism, and a higher cost of capital.” The report describes their approach to engaging companies on purpose. Thanks again to Coro Strandberg for the suggestion.

#FOUR — Toolkit: Skills to Deliver Real Societal Impact through Purpose

Laura Quinn, Private Sector Lead at social justice strategy firm Purpose, published the 5 skills identified in their work supporting leaders to deliver brand value through purpose: ecosystem thinking, a sharp equity lens, movement generosity, impact measurement, & knowing what you don’t know. When brand leaders are equipped with or acquire these skills, “they not only succeed in delivering authentic brand purpose that drives real, positive impact in the world; they also build credible stories, protect the reputation of their brand, and develop deeper and longer-lasting consumer relationships.”

#FIVE — Warranted Criticism on ESG… but what does it signal?

We started this week’s announcement on the topic of ESG investing, and we’ll finish with its shortcomings, but more importantly its necessity. Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson shares both sides of the coin in this recent Financial Times opinion piece. While the pitfalls are becoming obvious (read: “greenwashing”, “deadly distraction”, & “mostly for show”), it is undeniable that “the momentum behind environmental, social and governance-themed investing has seemed unstoppable for the past few years.” Better policies, transparency, and standards are required, but “it would be counter-productive to write off all ESG efforts as empty or harmful.” It is now on those who are guilty of using ESG to be perceived as conscious and valuable to actually provide evidence “that their lavishly marketed efforts are having a material impact.” Thanks to Tim Draimin for bringing this one to our attention.

quote of the week

“Some will not shake off the claims of greenwashing easily. ESG has always been blighted by hype and wooliness, with too many of its adherents content to sign non-committal pledges and scatter pictures of sunflowers through reports about elusive concepts such as ‘purpose’.” – Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson, FT, August 23, 2021.




CEO Enactus Canada. Past: VP, Impact MaRS. Lecturer MBET, U Waterloo. Thinker in Residence, Australia. Social entrepreneurship, Business for Purpose (B4PN)