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Follow the Money: why brands with a conscience are winning on Wall Street

It seems that everyone’s searching for the purpose these days.

Graduates seeking fulfillment; CEOs pondering legacy; marketers eyeing awards. The talk about purpose and greater consciousness in business has certainly centered on these areas: on how purpose can help attract the best talent, guide corporate strategy, and create cut-through for brands. It is in this third space, marketing, that the debate around brands with a conscience has largely taken place, about what it means for a brand to have a conscience, the impact this might have on engaging consumers, and whether brands talking purpose but without conscience are guilty of ‘purposewash’.

But one place that has not typically been associated with purpose or assumed to be interested in whether a brand has a conscience or not, is the finance department. The CFO’s interest has typically focused on the bottom line – what growth is the company generating, at what margin, and what do I need to satisfy my investors? They may have asked questions about whether the company’s risk profile was too high in supply chains or environmental impacts, but not about whether the company had a purpose or the brand a conscience. Until now.

Larry Fink, the chief executive of BlackRock...

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By Andy Last

Founder of MullenLowe Salt and advises organizations on how they can use social issues to drive growth, and how communications can effect change to bring about better business results and social progress. Author of the book “Business on a Mission: How to Build a Sustainable Brand”

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