Five Reasons Why Companies Should Do Business with Purpose

At SAP, we enjoy working with others in our customer base and throughout society to make a difference — essentially to make the world a better place. Here are five key reasons to make being a purpose-driven company a top priority.

Join me at SAPPHIRE NOW in 2018 for a panel discussion with five top purpose-driven companies: Boost Innovation and Create Value in the Circular Economy

1. Companies want to partner with others that share their values

Birds of a feather flock together, right? Well, in the case of Starbucks and SAP, it’s true. Our two companies share a commitment to ethical and sustainable business behavior – and we recently partnered on a collaborative website. The site, Starbucks and SAP, includes an “Innovation Challenge” landing page where employees crowdsource recommendations for ways Starbucks can do more on sustainability and consumer experience fronts. Companies that work together can make their initiatives that much more powerful.

2. Purposeful efforts are just good business

Doing good can help companies’ bottom lines. For one thing, sustainable products sell. Over multiple industries, companies like Walmart (its Sustainability Leaders Shop) and Target (its Made to Matter line) are generating $280 billion in annual sales from more sustainable products.  Purpose-led companies are also doing well: They outperformed the S&P by 10x between 1996 and 2011. Brands that scored high in purpose  (source: BrandZ Report, 2016) grew substantially more in value (81%) than brands that scored lower (24%). The numbers don’t lie. Doing business with purpose pays off.

3. Helping others can help you down the line

Customers are all too aware of the skills shortage facing society, particularly in technical jobs. Here at SAP, we’ve made a big push to close the skills gap. I had the pleasure of participating in a program called Africa Code Week this past year that aims to put young Africans on the path to successful careers. The SAP University Alliances program helps professors in 110 countries integrate the latest software and technology into their classrooms. There are education-based initiatives under way all across the globe that companies can contribute to. Getting involved can help the less fortunate get ahead. It can also – directly or indirectly – help your company staff up in the future.

4. Purpose resonates with all ages

We see ample evidence of how millennials are committed to causes, but doing business with purpose isn’t confined to one age range. We’re all in – millennials, gen Z, gen X, and “even” baby boomers. Surveys show that it makes a difference in the workplace: 89% of executives say a strong sense of collective purpose drives employees’ satisfaction and 84% said it can affect an organization’s ability to transform. Plus, 80% say it helps increase customers’ loyalty. Doing good makes employees and customers happy.

5. Purpose-driven companies can have a lasting impact

As a purpose-driven company, we are focusing our internal operations on advancing important causes. SAP Ariba integrates sustainability into its global supply chain program. The Business Beyond Bias functionality within the SAP SuccessFactors platform applies machine learning technology to identify and eliminate unconscious bias in the end-to-end employee lifecycle. SAP Leonardo technology is being used to promote sustainable agriculture by optimizing product yield while minimizing environmental impact.

We are also focused on working with others strengthening the economy, society, and the environment for all people. Our global goal to help end poverty is supported by providing access to banking services in developing countries to the millions of “unbanked” via SAP Mobile Platform. Customer Adarsh Credit is doing just that for more than 1 million Indian citizens. A second global goal of ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being at all ages is supported by improving cancer screenings and care via precision medicine to decrease premature mortality from cancer. Partner Heidelberg University is using SAP Cloud Platform to analyze data and help nurses get results faster.

Committing to worthy causes is an important step toward creating a sustainable economy. Companies are doing great work both locally and globally. Joining the cause can help us all get there that much faster.

People today want to make a difference. They want to be a part of something that improves other people’s lives. We see it every day inside SAP and in our interactions with our customers and partners. The companies we work with are filled with people that care. They’re passionate about causes ranging from literacy to world hunger to promoting a healthy environment for all.

Companies can make the world a better place – in big ways, small ways, all kinds of ways. You can partner with others on skills- or economic-based initiatives. You can make products that blend better with the environment. You can promote sustainability efforts, inside or your organization or throughout your supply chain.

There are many reasons to do the right thing, but, bottom line, having a purpose – and acting with a purpose – is the right thing to do.

Pat Bakey is president of Industries at SAP