Perhaps, sir, you will someday come back with books…

That’s what the headmaster of a local school told John Wood, a Microsoft executive in 1998 after he had just completed the eighteen day, two-hundred mile trek of Nepal’s Annapurna mountain range. John did return to Nepal with books and started Room to Read. Today over 20,000 communities in 15 countries have Room to Read libraries.

In the book, Purpose, Incorporated: Turning Cause Into Your Competitive Advantage, John and Amalia McGibbon delve into the origins of Room to Read, lessons from running the non profit as a business and the many conversations they had with business leaders trying to infuse purpose into their companies. John states in the book that “these business leaders saw purpose not as a nice thing to do but as a must-do-a key competitive advantage that could enhance enterprise value.” 

Purpose is becoming more and more an integral part of a company’s strategic focus. Once an afterthought at most companies, now purpose is an important discussion taking place in the halls and boardrooms of startups to multinationals. According to THE 2015 MILLENNIAL IMPACT REPORT, 44% of millennial employees said they were more likely to volunteer if their supervisor participated and 65% were more likely to volunteer if their coworkers participated. We expect companies to do more good in the communities they operate in. We as employees want our companies to contribute more to the society. With great power does come greater responsibility.

How to get started with purposeful initiatives at your company?

  1. Learn what your employees are most passionate about. Listen to their conversations, interests and things they do on weekends. Some love helping out in schools, others are excited about going to orphanages and elderly homes. You can start from there.
  2. Research on things that will make the most impact at any given time and take up that cause. If there has been a recent flood or landslides, you can mobilize your coworkers to collect basic necessities and arrange to transport them to those in need.
  3. Track your company’s social impact and share the results with the team. When you track the initiatives and the impact made, team members will become more motivated, inspired and excited to contribute to a bigger mission.