The general consensus among the group of IC experts was that an organisation’s purpose must live and breathe throughout the business. It should connect emotionally to why the organisation exists, and should unify employees around a common goal.
For IC professionals to truly embed purpose, they need to be present at the start of its evolution and champion it for employees. They also have to sustain their influence on how the purpose is communicated. Getting your foot past the boardroom door early in the process is not easy, and the group agreed that IC professionals must position themselves as a trusted and integral part of the process.
Simon Garcia, head of communications and employee engagement for commercial banking at HSBC, said: “We’re trying to position IC differently and not sit on the periphery of issues. The ideal place for IC to be is in the middle of the process, so that we understand how the decisions that leaders make shape the purpose. We don’t want to be asked to just take their message and do something with it.
“I sit with the CIO as she writes her objectives. It’s about being at that point of influence. Rather than taking the output, you’re at the genesis. There’s a line of sight with what you do on a day-to-day basis.”
“You have to be at the discussion tables when big decisions are made,” adds Lisa Gwinnell, head of employee and leadership communications at Siemens, “but you also have to be on the ground.”
Getting employees on board with the purpose is the most important element. It can’t just be a strapline. Tam Sandeman, a communication director at Walgreens Boots Alliance, advises: “Don’t just run the purpose at your employees. It needs to be how you are – in your business’s DNA – and not just words you say at people.”