Navigator logo Canadian Centre for the Purpose of the Corporation logo

Defining Your Corporate Purpose

A strong majority of Canadians recognize that business and corporations play a vital role in the economy by creating jobs, fostering innovation and providing essential goods and services. At the same time, Canadians believe businesses and organizations do not care enough about the societal challenges that concern them.

For example, half of Canadians want governments to do more to tackle the country’s environment and climate change challenges; inequalities of wealth and income; and inequities and discrimination in the treatment of Canadians. Meanwhile, approximately one third of Canadians want non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to do more to address these issues.

Fundamentally, organizations are not seen to be sufficiently addressing the greatest challenges we face: wealth inequality, a changing climate, and inequitable treatment and discrimination.

Prompted by this rising urgency, business leaders around the world are reassessing the primacy of the shareholder and the idea that the sole purpose of business is profit. The events of recent years have laid bare both the interconnectedness of all stakeholders and the cost of ignoring these relationships. The moment demands that businesses define their purpose in a way that meaningfully addresses all stakeholders and their needs.

Changing expectations have also created vital opportunities to bring employees — current and future — onboard with your organization as never before, to align your purpose with your operational priorities, and to help solve the problems facing the world. Defining purpose goes beyond precursor mandates of Environmental Sustainability and Governance, and Corporate Social Responsibility, to get to the heart of an organization, its impact and its direction.

Why Does Purpose Matter Now?

The Centre’s research shows that the majority of Canadians (55%) believe capitalism should be reformed so that it is more inclusive, fairer and more sustainable. Less than half (48%) indicate that business is “a force of good within society.”

These and other findings suggest that businesses doing more for stakeholders can be rewarded by their current and prospective employees. The majority of Canadians (56%) state they are personally willing to accept a lower salary to work for a business which espouses the “stakeholder model”.

If businesses do not step up, they collectively face the risk that change will be thrust upon them. In fact, a significant majority (65%) of Canadians are calling on government to force businesses and corporations to put environmental and stakeholder considerations on par with profits or shareholder return while making decisions. Two-thirds of Canadians agree that if we’re going to overcome climate change (69%) and inequalities (66%), governments in Canada need to get tougher with Canadian businesses and corporations through laws, regulations, and taxes.

This reality poses serious challenges for businesses and organizations but also crucial opportunities for growth and future success. For organizations committed to pursuing their purpose, the moment to act is now.

CCPC

Purpose Index 2022

André Pratte

September 22, 2022

Read Now
CCPC

Should businesses raise wages as inflation soars?

André Pratte | Globe and Mail

July 26, 2022

The inflation rate in Canada reached 8.1 per cent in June, a level not seen since January 1983. Those higher prices are putting increasing pressure on households, whose financial situations are growing tighter. In that context, one would expect workers to demand higher wages to…

The inflation rate in Canada reached 8.1 per cent in June, a level not seen since January 1983. Those higher prices are putting increasing pressure…

Read Now
CCPC

Research Report: Taking a stand on social issues – Why? When? How?

André Pratte

July 7, 2022

The CCPC is proud to announce the release of a new paper in partnership with Assistant Professor Dr. Rachel Ruttan, from the Rotman School of Management. “Taking a stand on social issues: Why? When? How?” explores the evolving trend of corporate activism and corporate involvement…

The CCPC is proud to announce the release of a new paper in partnership with Assistant Professor Dr. Rachel Ruttan, from the Rotman School of…

Read Now
CCPC

Adversaries of ESG underestimate the forces behind the movement

André Pratte | Globe and Mail

May 31, 2022

In early May, Strive Asset Management was launched with the mission of “restoring the voices of everyday citizens in the U.S. economy by leading companies to focus on excellence over politics.” The $20-million fund is led by entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, who criticized leading American asset-management…

In early May, Strive Asset Management was launched with the mission of “restoring the voices of everyday citizens in the U.S. economy by leading companies…

Read Now
More Insights