Just 15% of global board directors say their company’s purpose is to maximise shareholder value, according to a survey from EY.
The research, which polled 1,400 business leaders from around the world and represents a significant shift in corporate culture and strategy, found that one in ten companies say their purpose is to bring value to their employees.
A hefty two-thirds of those questioned said they are “profoundly rethinking” their company’s purpose, while 73% say that integrating corporate purpose into their organisations is the key to success in an uncertain global economy.
EY’s report, How can purpose reveal a path through disruption? Mapping the journey from rhetoric to reality, included leaders from 500 companies with a turnover of $2.5bn or more.
Valerie Keller, global lead, EY Beacon Institute and EY Global Markets, said: “Our research shows the real advantages companies gain when going on an authentic purpose journey.
“The data also busts the myth of purpose versus profit. Seventy-five percent of purposeful companies involved in our survey tell us that the integration of purpose creates value in the short-term, as well as over the long run.
“They also report that being purposeful gives them greater agility to innovate in the face of disruption and uncertainty. But you have to walk the talk in your strategy, products and services, and customer and employee experiences.
“A purpose patina of words without action runs the risk of unmet stakeholder expectations, decreased trust and missed opportunities.”
The research found that 92% of those polled agreed that purpose should be “embedded in our governance and decision-making processes and systems.”