Purpose gives meaning to corporate life

Bruce Hassall – 

Purpose is becoming much more important for organisations and I think that reflects the world we live in today, which is changing very fast.

It is not only becoming more connected through the impact of technology and digital, but also because organisations need to be plugged in to the world around them – their communities.

A lot of this is driven by employees wanting to work for an organisation that is connected to the community and contributing to the positive wellbeing of their surroundings.

If you have strong, vibrant communities, you are much more likely to create an environment where you can have a vibrant and buoyant business environment.

The purpose of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is around building trust and solving the important problems.

Being relevant

What we need to do at PwC is make that relevant to our people, to New Zealand and the communities in which we live. For example, if I think around Auckland, how can we play a role in helping the city solve its problems around housing, transport and infrastructure. For me, it is about making it tangible for people so that they can see it and touch it.

Prioritising stakeholder needs is a challenge, and it is becoming an even greater challenge with the speed of change.

A key question businesses are asking is: How do you keep all stakeholders in balance? We do not live in a status-quo world any more.

Increasingly, I believe that profitable growth and success are one and the same in terms of meeting wider stakeholder expectations.

If you can get the balance right between meeting wider stakeholder aspirations, that in itself will drive a successful business and outcomes.

We spend millions as a firm in the pro bono area, and increasingly we are asking ourselves whether it is making a difference.

Skilled Volunteering

Our Skilled Volunteering Programme, which is the financial literacy programme for low-decile schools, aims to achieve two objectives.

Firstly, we think it is important to be engaged with our communities and that is what our people want us to do.

But at the same time, how can we do that and be meaningful and make a real difference? We have a lot of financially literate people at PwC, so it is about leveraging that financial skill capability for the benefit of our communities.

I am comfortable at this point that these activities are not formally measured, because if you are trying to encourage new ways of doing things and have the mind-set, you have to measure everything from day one, I think it has a danger of sending the wrong messages and can sometimes kill things off.

New methods

I think we have to try things and encourage new ways of engaging, new ways of doing things. Everything does not need a quantitative measurement linked to it; qualitative assessments are increasingly as relevant and should drive the right long-term quantitative outcomes you are seeking.

Bruce Hassall is Chief Executive of PricewaterhouseCoopers New Zealand based in Auckland. Another report on the PwC CEOs Survey 2016 appears in this Section.

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