Some of you may recall in January 2018, BlackRock Chairman and CEO Larry Fink made headlines with his Annual Letter to CEOs telling business leaders to step up on social responsibility. This year, Mr. Fink expanded on this sentiment.
In his 2019 letter, Purpose & Profit, he details the importance of purpose and its link to profit. He also builds urgency for business leaders to take responsibility for “issues central to the world’s future prosperity.”
As I read through his letter this year, I was speechless. It was the very essence of Purpose Greater Than Profit. It’s what I tell my clients. The work I do for my clients. Why I chose this work.
I launched Purpose Greater Than Profit on March 20, 2017. I needed a place to put my ideas, and I wanted to share what I was seeing with others. At the time, I was noticing changes in what people expected from businesses and I started following companies that were challenging the traditional “make and take” business model. I was discovering the value of purpose.
Last year, there was a time I almost walked away from my business, but I couldn’t. I realized I wasn’t done helping companies define their purpose, and I jumped back in with full force.
Now I know why. So I could be here today reading a letter from the CEO of the largest investment group in the world, a company with $6 trillion in assets under management, passionately telling the CEOs of global companies to believe in a purpose greater than profit.
Here’s a short excerpt from Mr. Fink’s 2019 letter:
Purpose is not a mere tagline or marketing campaign; it is a company’s fundamental reason for being – what it does every day to create value for its stakeholders. Purpose is not the sole pursuit of profits but the animating force for achieving them. Profits are in no way inconsistent with purpose – in fact, profits and purpose are inextricably linked.
…Purpose unifies management, employees, and communities. It drives ethical behavior and creates an essential check on actions that go against the best interests of stakeholders. Purpose guides culture, provides a framework for consistent decision-making, and, ultimately, helps sustain long-term financial returns for the shareholders of your company
I hope you take time to read the entire letter. You can find “Larry Fink’s 2019 Letter to CEOs” here.