By Katerina Yennari*
Is it possible for the business world to be a credible ally and advocate in effectively managing global challenges? Could businesses contribute to or become themselves forces for social change, justice, respect for fundamental human rights and environmental protection?
On the face of it, and by the very nature of businesses, the answer is no. After all, how could a profit-driven company act as an agent for the wellbeing of society? However, looking at the growing practice over the last decade minimum, there has been a shift by for-profit organisations towards social and environmental initiatives, focusing on ways to solve or facilitate the management of major social and environmental challenges.
The two-year pandemic brought upon fundamental changes in the business world, not only due to the economic consequences of a global standstill, but mainly because of the severity of multiple dimensions related to the health crisis, the labour market, and the huge cultural changes in society. At the heart of all these challenges are, of course, humans.
Collective Responsibility and Companies
In recent years, the sense of collective responsibility has become so deeply rooted in society that businesses are now accountable for the impact of their activities on society and the environment. Expectations exceed any superficial corporate social responsibility practices.
Many corporations recognise that it is does not suffice to simply make a profit. They are now compelled to actively ensure that their undertakings have a positive impact on the social and environmental context in which they operate.
The role of corporations in developing a better world is not just a matter of increasing concern to societies, but is now a collective demand from citizens, customers, employees, shareholders and government institutions, i.e. the stakeholders of a company.
The need for a more humane corporate world has led to a purposeful culture that has been embedded in a variety of business practices. This business shift is directly linked to the responsibility and obligations of businesses to society when dealing with global changes in their corporate mission statement. Stakeholders expect them to be accountable to their own goals and standards for the Environment, Social Governance (ESG), and for Equality, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I).
The «Purpose Academy» Initiative
Purpose Communications' initiative is inextricably linked to the company's philosophy and belief that businesses not only are able to, but must, contribute to change by offering their expertise and know how towards building a better world. In other words, by offering the necessary tools towards the implementation of policies that are important to citizens and society.
The Purpose Academy was planned to be implemented within Purpose Communications' first year of official operation, as the element of giving back is deeply rooted in the company's DNA. It was a common thread to bring the collective experience and knowledge of Purpose's shareholders and workforce to bear in creating a meaningful social responsibility program that has a measurable impact.
The Purpose Academy is essentially a series of seminars by the Purpose Communications team, in collaboration with other experts in the public relations and communications industry, who will offer their knowledge and expertise pro bono to benefit local charities and non-profit organizations (NGOs) and foundations.
Three NGOS will be selected to participate in the Purpose Academy programme for 2023, which will last for six months. The selected NGOS will be trained in strategic communication and building up their public image. They will have the opportunity to upscale their employees’ and volunteers’ skills in the public relations and communications fields, providing them with the tools to develop and implement a communication plan for their organisation. In addition, participants will have the opportunity to attend one workshop per month, under a different theme, such as Public Relations, Copywriting/Storytelling, Media Relations Development, Digital Communication, Measuring Campaign Success, Event Management, etc. Furthermore, tailored exclusive meetings per NGO will be offered by the Purpose Communications team.
Interested NGOs are invited to apply for one of the three available positions in this year's first cycle of the training programme on the Purpose Communications’ website. Deadline for submitting applications is Friday, 12 May 2023. Following the assessment of the applications, Purpose Communications will invite the successful organisations to attend this first cycle of the Purpose Academy, starting in June 2023.
Purpose Communications’ aspiration is for the Academy to become a driving force for the participating organisations to upscale their skills in the key areas of communication they wish. The long-term goal is to grow this initiative and offer additional positions in subsequent Academy cycles. At a later stage, the aim is for the trainees to become mentors to new participants in the future.
* Katerina Yennari is a Senior Communications Consultant at Purpose Communications