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How to serve and get ahead

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In 2019, Isaac Getz wrote the book L’Entreprise Altruiste, which is about companies that have made radical transformations for the greater good, with Japan’s Eisai Pharmaceutical being a prime example. In the early 1990s, Eisai’s new president, Haruo Naito, began to shift the company’s focus from its bottom line to “human healthcare,” prioritizing the care of patients and their families. Naito believed that luck and good fortune could be had by those who were passionate, enthusiastic, and most of all, put patients’ needs first. Getz reported that Naito invited each department to rethink its business processes with this new goal in mind. For instance, the sales team focused on getting the right products to the right patients, who were often suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s. In a poorly performing district, a sales manager held lectures and demos on how to make homes and habits safer in an effort to reduce hospital visits by the older age group.

The result was that GPs heard good things about Eisai, and the sales manager doubled her sales in six months—without even trying. Getz argued that one of the most positive outcomes of being a purpose-led business is that it helps with talent recruitment. He said that millennials are looking for companies that prioritize their social mission and purpose, which means that they can attract more job candidates than their competitors. Furthermore, studies have shown that purpose-led companies are able to retain their top talent. However, in warning that brands should not brag about what they are doing, Getz references a French saying that, in English, reads, “In fame there is no virtue, and in virtue there is no fame.” He explained that the companies he studied were not eager to promote their efforts, and it took him two years to even get in touch with Eisai’s president. Getz said that the reason for this reticence is that companies believe that it is the right thing to do and that they benefit in the long run.

The concept of a purpose-led business is not new. Companies have long had social, environmental, and ethical responsibilities, and the recent wave of purpose-led businesses has simply shifted the focus from profit to people. Getz said that while companies must be aware of their purposes and be able to explain them, they must also ensure that their employees are living these purposes daily. He stated that companies should conduct training to help their employees understand their purposes and dedicate themselves to them. Furthermore, he said that companies should invest in making their processes as efficient and effective as possible, as this will free up time and resources to fulfill their missions.

In conclusion, the concept of purpose-led business has become increasingly important in recent years.

Companies that prioritize the needs of their customers, their employees, and the environment achieve greater returns and attract more talent. Although it takes time and effort to build a company that puts people first, the results are worth it. Companies should take time to explain their purposes to their employees, invest in training, and ensure that their processes are efficient and effective. Companies that are both purpose-led and profitable are the future of business.

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