In today’s world of heightened consciousness around social and environmental justice, ‘corporate purpose’ now goes far beyond the traditional mindset of delivering on a corporate’s duty – which has historically been to primarily focus on serving the interests of shareholders, employees and customers.
“Today, a higher order of thinking is expected,”
says Benedict Burke, Crawford’s chief client officer, Global Client Development. “A company’s purpose and core values should be the foundation stones of its strategic process – which includes being open to the expectations of the communities we serve.”
Those expectations are now abundantly clear; according to Deloitte, more than 70 percent of millennials, now aged 22 to 38, expect employers to focus on societal or mission-driven issues. Meanwhile, a recent survey of nearly 30,000 consumers by Accenture found that 63 percent prefer to buy goods and services from companies that “stand for a shared purpose that reflects their personal values and beliefs – and are ditching those that don’t".
Jim Crawford founded Crawford in 1941 on the key principles of honesty and integrity, hard work, knowledge and creativity. More than 80 years on, our purpose has evolved to “restore lives, businesses and communities” and our core values are RESTORE – Respect, Empowerment, Sustainability, Training, One Crawford, Recognition and Entrepreneurial Spirit. “These values support our purpose, shape our culture, define our identity and help us make good decisions,” says Burke.
In 2020, Crawford introduced a Code of Business Conduct and Ethics (or ‘Code’) laying out the standards we are expected to uphold. In May 2022, we released our inaugural Global Citizenship Report, ‘Stronger Together’, which outlines all the ways the company is working to fulfil its corporate responsibility goals and have a positive impact on employees, clients, communities and the environment.
Among the Fortune 500 companies, 424 have a mission statement. However, less than a quarter have gone as far as writing a ‘purpose’ statement – despite the growing evidence of a strong link between having a clear corporate purpose and performance as an organization.
Research by Raj Sisodia, author of the bestselling Firms of Endearment, found that companies operating with a clear and driving sense of purpose, beyond the goal of just making money, outperformed the S&P 500 by a factor of 14 between 1998 and 2013. “When values align with an organization’s purpose or mission, the speed at which they can achieve results also accelerates,” says Burke.
There are also internal benefits; Deloitte has found, for example, that purpose-driven companies retain employees 40 percent better and have 30 percent higher levels of innovation.
Burke believes corporate purpose is also key to crisis management – though there is currently less data illustrating the link between purpose and crisis outcomes. “Intuitively, it feels right that in a crisis, corporates with purpose will respond differently and better than those without,” he says.
“For a corporate to effectively manage a crisis, there must be an alignment of individuals’ values with corporate purpose,”
Burke argues. “The intersection of the two is where differentiated value emerges, as both the individual and corporate’s survival instincts are mutually beneficial.”
This draws on Maslow’s classic Hierarchy of Needs theory, which references ‘safety’ – including factors like emotional stability and financial security – as a fundamental personal need.
“If, as individuals, our motivation includes safety then the survival instinct in us all will likely rally around a common corporate purpose where it, too, promises safety,” Burke explains, adding: “As Nietzsche once said, ‘he who has a ‘why’ to live for can endure almost any ‘how’”.
As a world leader in claims management, responding to crises is in Crawford’s DNA. Our Code, values and clear purpose ensure we continue to do so in a manner befitting of the communities we serve.