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Brands with purpose: how to create more meaning in the world

This content is produced by a member of The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

Meaning on the importance of embedding purpose into branding and considering carbon footprints

The future is now: tomorrow’s mindfulness-driven workforce wants to dedicate their time to an organization that stands for something actionable in the world.

Now more than ever, leaders and decision-makers are powering a workforce and serving consumers that require brands to stand for more than just profit.

Leaders across the globe are asking: how do we propel and harness the power of our brand as a force of purpose to create more meaning?

The oldest millennials are entering their 40s, while gen Z is carving its own unique spaces in the workforce, where the traditional hierarchical structures, two-week vacation policies and in-office incentives that are only tied to profit are no longer motivational enough to join an organization. The new generation of workers value purpose over profit.

Brands that have a clear point of view, creating inclusive spaces of belonging and providing an opportunity to make a difference, stand the greatest chance of creating impactful meaning in the world while galvanizing their consumers and workforce.

According to the Presencing Institute, founded by MIT Sloan School of Management senior lecturer Otto Scharmer, there are three ‘divides’ that are currently driving our human existence:

  1. The ecological divide: A deep disconnect between ourselves and nature. We’re currently extracting resources from our planet at a faster rate than the Earth can replenish itself.

  2. The communal divide: An increasing disconnect between ourselves and others. We’re more globally polarized than ever, powered by a sharp rise of inequality, systemic racism and political and social unrest.

  3. The spiritual divide: A disconnect between our true selves and the version of ourselves we present to the external world. Our collective mental health is challenged, with manifestations of that reality popping up on our social feeds and nightly news.

Now more than ever, organizations have a responsibility to create opportunity for their employees, partners and consumers by making them a part of the solution. No matter how small, leaders and brands pushing these efforts are well on their way to adding more meaning in the world.

Here are some key tactics your brand can adopt for the future of work:

Leading with sustainability

Offices around the world are consistently filled with branded merchandise that lacks true meaning. It’s time to offer merch with purpose. Across your company, honor our planet by encouraging the elimination of single-use plastic bottles and providing employees with functional, branded reusable bottles.

If possible, consider investing in branded T-shirts and other wearables made with organic cotton and eco-conscious material. Standard cotton is one of the most chemically-driven, pesticide-powered non-food crops on the planet. In a hyper-digital and distributed workforce, it’s a great way to build rapport with a colleague who’s sitting on a screen in another corner of the world.

Fostering inclusion and belonging

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts are among the most pivotal initiatives and programs happening across organizations.

I talk with executives daily who are deeply troubled by whether their DEI strategy is the correct strategy. It’s important to start somewhere; as a foundation, start with cognitive diversity and neurodiversity.

These are deeply powerful diagnostic tools that measure how individuals prefer to think and behave from a scientific lens, rather than solely an emotional one.

Architecting a DEI program powered by the measurement of thought and behavior ensures that you can build successful frameworks. This will lessen tensions around difficult and painful conversations, as well as set your organization and people for a more fruitful journey toward lasting social change.

The spirit of connectivity

For decades the term ‘spirit’ was taboo in the workspace. Regardless of the verbiage, the fact is that the employee spirit is under attack and manifesting itself as stress, burnout and turnover at heightened rates. Some organizations are leaning in on technology to build communities of mindfulness and wellbeing for their people. Trigger tracking, accountability and stress-reduction programs through digital experiences for your community are just a few of the wellness tactics your organization can champion.

These are the organizational efforts that will shape your culture and retain talent.

Climate change, pandemics, social unrest and mental health crises are challenges that can only be solved if we collectively collaborate to enact change. Corporations, brands and communities are uniquely positioned to offer tangible solutions, while influencing large populations for the betterment of our planet. The smallest of efforts authentically embedded in your brand’s narrative can make big differences that inspire contributions on a global scale. That’s how your brand’s purpose, your people, your consumers and our shared planet will win.

Allan Fair, co-founder and chief culture officer of Meaning [part of INVNT Group].

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