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The incredible rise of Britain’s mission-led businesses

As the UK basks in an ongoing productivity crisis and high-profile ethics breaches dominate the headlines, more organisations are taking on a socially-conscious approach and becoming mission-led businesses.
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Companies such as The Co-op Group, Lush and Timpson are high profile adopters of the mission-led businesses now picking up momentum.

Responding to the demands to have a coherent mission-led business strategy, the government recently commissioned a report into mission-led businesses. The aim of On a Mission in the UK Economy, published by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and with the advice of many leading business leaders, was to assess the current data on UK mission-led businesses and to set a vision for future recommendations.

The facts are clear. Since 2010, the importance of “purpose” as a purchasing factor has risen 26 per cent globally and the growth rate of brands identified as “responsible” is nearly double that of conventional brands. Evidence also suggests that Millennials are increasingly looking to work in organisations that have a clear purpose rather than just a career ladder.

In the absence of any generally-recognised governance structure that appropriately reflects mission-led businesses, the legal hurdles can be confusing. The fundamental issue is successfully adopting a “corporate design” that enshrines mission and purpose. Crucial aspects of a well thought-out solution include communicating purpose to increase employee engagement, creating social value through the supply chain and reporting transparently to employees and stakeholders.

Employee engagement

While companies need to ensure processes are in place to pay wages in line with the National Living Wage, socially-conscious organisations may choose to go a step further and voluntarily pay the ‘Living Wage’ (£9.75 in London and £8.45 elsewhere in the UK). These figures are independently calculated each year based on what employees and their families need to live.

The cost of implementing these measures will be higher, but evidence shows that promoting employee wellbeing and enhanced quality of life among staff as well as engaging them in the organisation’s social purpose, leads to significant increases in productivity. Employees who are engaged with their firm’s social purpose deliver greater value, loyalty and longevity.

Mission-led businesses should therefore ensure employment practices mirror company values in all areas, spanning anything from maternity/paternity rights to annual leave and pay rates.

Read on for a glimpse into the potential future of mission-led businesses

Image: Shutterstock

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