Enacting Purpose Initiative

The Enacting Purpose Initiative (EPI) is a multi-institution partnership between the University of Oxford, the University of California Berkeley, BCG BrightHouse, EOS at Federated Hermes, the British Academy, the Social Purpose Center at the University of Melbourne Business School, and the Purpose Center of the Sustainability and Organizations (S&O) Institute at HEC Paris.

 

The EPI seeks to establish best practice purpose governance globally. To do this, we have invited a number of leading businesses and investors to work alongside the research partners. Our work is also contributing to the British Academy’s ‘Future of the Corporation’ initiative.

Key partners

Said Business School
Berkley Law
BCG Brighthouse
Federated Hermes EOS
The British Academy
Purpose Centre of the Sustainability and Organizations (S&O) Institute at HEC Paris
University of Melbourne Social Purpose Centre

Reports and research

Enacting purpose within the modern corporation

Enacting purpose within the modern corporation

In 2020, we brought together our first set of meetings, convening a series of 30 business leaders from organisations and institutions headquartered in the UK and Continental Europe to form a Directors Steering Group. These meetings resulted in our first report “Enacting Purpose within the Modern Corporation: A Framework for Directors”, a copy of which can be downloaded below. This report made three contributions as follows:

  • definitional clarity, separating out the concepts of purpose, mission, values and vision
  • differentiating purpose as strategy from purpose as marketing, and
  • a new board governance framework SCORE, through which directors can best govern the enactment of their stated purpose
Directors and investors: building on common ground to advance sustainable capitalism

Directors and investors: building on common ground to advance sustainable capitalism

In 2021, we convened a second set of meetings establishing two parallel discussion tracks – one for board directors and one for the investment community. We brought together a group of 30 business leaders from organisations and institutions headquartered in the US to form the Directors Steering Group and a separate Global Investor Steering Group which was attended by 30 leading asset owners and managers. These meetings were hugely productive, and resulted in our second report “Directors & Investors: Building on Common Ground to Advance Sustainable Capitalism”, a copy of which can be downloaded below. This report built on the momentum from the first EPI report, outlining:

  • the corporate, investor, legal and political context in which the debate on purpose has become so critical for organisations
  • how different definitions converge, together with some initial thoughts on how purpose can best be measured
  • what boards and investors most want to see when it comes to purpose, focusing on the common ground that unites both groups
The foundation of values and value in the 21st century

The foundation of values and value in the 21st century

Early in 2023, we were delighted to partner with the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford, Fraunhofer IMW, Global Solutions, the New Institute, and the Oxford Internet Institute for a two-day discussion on the role of value and values in formulating business practice and public policy. The aim of the Summit was to reassert the centrality of moral values for the conduct of human life and to explore the role of values in policy and business decision-making. The spread of individualism, the majority-rule basis of democracy, and the market economy have all combined to undermine the importance and relevance of moral values, creating a system essentially based on delivering ‘what we (as voters and consumers) want’. The inadequacy of this as a governing principle in making political, business, and social decisions is shown by the current ‘polycrisis’ discussed in the World Economic Forum at Davos. This report summarises the Summit and captures the key policy recommendations emerging from our discussions.

Further reading

Measuring Purpose – An Integrated Framework

A European Corporate Governance Model

EPI Report –
EU Bibliography

Presentations and discussions

Webinar with the British Academy: ‘Beyond ESG – Measuring Corporate Purpose’

University of Oxford/Economics of Mutuality Webinar, ‘Putting Purpose into Practice’

Panel discussion of  ‘Capitalism and Crises – How to Fix Them’, with Professor Colin Mayer

info@enactingpurpose.org
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