April 29, 2021


by Aalastair Sibley in News

In this episode you will learn: 

  • Why transparency and authenticity go hand in hand with brand purpose 
  • How operationalizing purpose can help companies mitigate risk and serve as a competitive advantage 
  • How to measure brand purpose and why companies must 

Even before the global pandemic erupted in tandem with social justice protests, consumers were applying more pressure on brands to demonstrate their purpose and take a stance. The “vote with your wallet” concept was easy for consumers to apply to their day-to-day purchases. The bestselling book written by Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, “Conscious Capitalism,” had landed him on Oprah’s podcast, further empowering a new generation of consumer activists. And Havas’ Meaningful Brands research had found that 77% of consumers prefer to buy from companies and brands that share their values. 

Beyond influencing how people shopped, purpose had also begun to have bearing on where they worked. A study by Deloitte found that two out of three millennials—the generation predicted to comprise 75% of the global workforce by 2025—primarily choose to work at a company because of its purpose. 

However, in 2020, the onus to drive change shifted away from consumers who were locked in the pressure cooker of a pandemic and onto corporate leaders for whom 2020 was the year to show what they were made of and what their company stood for. This is the subject of our April episode as well as a new Red Havas white paper, “From Pledges to Progress: Proving Brand Purpose in 2021” (available for download here).  


In a conversation moderated by Red Havas’ Linda Descano, CFA®, two representatives of Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose—better known as CECP—explore how the role of the corporation in society is evolving and the implications it has on how companies communicate and engage with employees, communities, policymakers, investors and other key stakeholder audiences. A think tank that helps companies transform how they engage with stakeholders, CECP can claim CEO members representing more than 200 of the world’s largest companies from across different industries, totaling more than $11.2 trillion in revenues and 14 million employees worldwide. 

Together, Nandika Madgavkar, who is head of The CEO Investor Forum at CECP, and Alexa Yigit, head of sustainable finance for CECP, trace the changes they’ve charted in brand purpose and what it all means for corporations. 

“Put aside everything else, the focus is on employees, because your employees are the reason a company will survive, thrive, exist for the long term,” says Nandika. “If you don’t have engaged employees who feel that the company and the CEO in particular has their best interests at heart, they are not going to show up. They’re not going to produce. They’re not going to be there for the long term. They are looking for a company that shows heart more than it shows the bottom line.” 

And the business benefits of operating from a place of purpose, especially during a crisis, are beginning to make themselves known, too. As Alexa says, “An authentic corporate purpose, when experienced through the brand and lived through the strategy, can help create shareholder value while positioning companies to realize a return on purpose over the long term.”  

While the purpose landscape has changed indelibly over the past year, in particular there’s been a shift in the substance, style and tonality of brand communications, both internally and externally, about three key themes: employee wellbeing; diversity, equity and inclusion; and the climate. 


Episode 11 concludes with a conversation between Red Havas Senior Account Manager Shailo Rasanayakam and Simone Gupta, CEO of Havas PR Australia, who answers the questions we ask of a new guest each month to understand what inspires them and makes them tick. A strategic and holistic board-level business lead and leadership coach, Simone is currently managing Havas agencies Red Havas and One Green Bean after her recent promotion in Q1 2021. She has been active in the gender equality discussion for many years, hosting industry panels on women in senior creative and management roles. She was founding deputy chair of PR industry body the PR Council of Australia, founding chairman of girls’ rights charity One Woman at a Time and is an experienced leadership coach. 

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