Purpose is driving these companies through crisis

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Good morning.

I spent an hour yesterday listening to a baker’s dozen of CEOs talk about how their company’s purpose has helped guide them through crisis. Three months ago, I had wondered whether the economic downturn would force business leaders to focus all their attention on the bottom line, and abandon broader goals. But this group, assembled by Fortune and McKinsey, insisted the crisis has done the opposite. They may not represent every CEO, or even the majority. But their passion is an indication that something different is afoot in business leadership. Some excerpts:

“I think the number one constituency that I serve is my employees, because I think the only sustainable advantage that a company has is the talent and passion of their employees. If you put employees first—and employees come to companies that have an inspiring mission and values—then you will serve customers better, and, ultimately, shareholders.”

—Dan Schulman, CEO, PayPal

“For Best Buy, this journey started by saying out loud: ‘The purpose of this company is not to make money.’ It is imperative to make money, but it is not the purpose. Our purpose is to enrich lives through technology.”

 —Corie Barry, CEO, Best Buy

“When the s— hits the fan—whether it is COVID or social injustice—we look to our purpose to figure out what to do. Our purpose is to create world changing technologies that enrich the lives of every person on earth. That simple line helped us define fairly quickly what to do.”

Bob Swan, CEO, Intel

“Like everybody else, we focused on our employees number one. The combination of pandemic and social injustice… 4people are desperate for information and support.”

—Margaret Keane, CEO, Synchrony

“The crisis brings out the best in a people-driven organization. We believe the social contract at work is a source of resilience. We don’t give this up in a time of crisis. It actually makes us stronger.”

—John Driscoll, CEO, CareCentrix

 “Where employees… have a sense of purpose, they are four times more engaged, which means more productivity, which means less attrition, which means they are bringing to work creativity, thinking out of the box.”

—Bruce Simpson, McKinsey

“I think we have a unique opportunity, in part driven by the lack of leadership in our government, for companies to make a huge difference. It has become very common for people to say COVID is accelerating trends already in place. The trend of companies driving real societal change is absolutely huge. It’s literally like a snowball going downhill, picking up momentum.”

—Roger Crandall, CEO, MassMutual

More news below. And take a look at Shawn Tully’s piece on what basic math says about what shareholders can expect from Apple in the years ahead.

Alan Murray


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