IPRS Learning Luncheon 2023: How 100 Singapore Companies Approached Purpose

It was incredible to see 64 participants at IPRS’ very first Learning Luncheon on the topic of Corporate Purpose. In recent years, perhaps amplified by the COVID pandemic, Purpose has come to the forefront of societal, investor, customer and employee expectations, for businesses to lead in addressing social and environmental challenges.

We hosted Ferdinand de Bakker and Amanda Huan from NTU, our IPRS Corporate Member, who presented their research of 100 Singapore companies and their findings on approaching and communicating the “why” of business.

Some insights:

  • It is the task of the CEO to articulate and own the Purpose. But there must be involvement at all levels, of course.
  • The role of the Communications practitioner is to be an “antenna” (know what is happening in the world); a consultant to the CEO and company; play a part in the articulation/creation of the Purpose, but it must be owned by the CEO; and of course communicate it.
  • In the 100 Singapore companies studied, only about half have a stated Purpose, but most of it was undifferentiated and could be applied to most companies.
  • It is important to have a differentiator. There is no right or wrong way to write a Purpose – it can long or short. It must be incorporated into all materials.
  • The CEO is the key spokesperson. Be clear between a Corporate Purpose vs a Brand Purpose. Corporate Purpose is overarching, shared purpose; whereas Brands can embrace their own identity but aligned to the overall Purpose.

Dominic Mason, Managing Director of Sedgwick Richardson South-east Asia, also spoke as a partner in the NTU study. He shared 2 case studies of SATS (corporate purpose) and Blu (water brand of SATS), in a demonstration of how Purpose can be a driver of value creation for the company.

There were many good, thought-provoking questions asked by the participants, including how can Communicators influence the process, how to measure the value and outcomes from the Purpose, and even why should stakeholders care about the company’s Purpose.

The 1.5 hours went by very quickly with good insights shared by the speakers, and lots of engagement with the participants, on this important topic.

A post event survey garnered a 19% response from the participants who rated the event well above good. One suggestion for a future topic is strategic communications.

Stay tuned for the next IPRS Learning Luncheon!

IPRS Secretariat