How Can Companies and Investors Collaborate to Embed Purpose Authentically into Business?

Join us and a panel of experts to explore how companies and investors can collaborate to embed purpose authentically into business

Live Panel

18th June 2020, 11:00am-12:00 BST [ADD to CALENDAR]


  • Yasmina Zaidman, Chief Partnerships Officer, Acumen
  • Rares Pamfil; Proposition Lead; Impact Agora
  • Vitto Cerulli, Challenge Director, Business Fights Poverty
  • Ben Kellard, Business Director, CISL
  • Anita Mc Bain, Head of Responsible Investment & ESG, M&G
  • Myriam Sidibe, Founder, Brands on a Mission, and Senior Fellow, Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Robert G. Eccles, Professor of Management, Said Business School
  • John Berger, Director of Operations, Toniic
  • Charlene Cranny, Communications and Campaigns Director, UKSIF
  • Jonathan Gill, Global Sustainability Director, Unilever
  • Erin Pham Steinhauer, VP, Social Impact, Visa
  • Camille Le Pors, Lead, Corporate Human Rights Benchmark, World Benchmarking Alliance


Business does not operate in a vacuum. The health of the communities in which business operates is inherently connected to the health of business itself. And vice versa, the health of business impacts the health of communities. The combination of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the global reaction to the murder of George Floyd are two huge social issues…affecting everyone, including business. And yet business can and should also be part of the solution.

How businesses engage with social issues is more important than ever. Businesses sharing nice words without action to back them up are being publicly called out. Businesses that are able to demonstrate their authentic social purpose are winning fans, with employees, consumers and shareholders.

Purpose social TW

CLICK ABOVE or COPY LINK into browser: This discussion paper has been co-created with the Business Fights Poverty community, subject experts and made possible with the support of GSK, Unilever and Visa.

After a year of research asking whether business can have “purpose”, deliver “sustainability” and be “a force for good”- this online discussion brings together experts, practitioners and invites everyone to share their insights on the following key questions:


  1. What examples are there of businesses delivering authentic sustainable purpose beyond the usual suspects? What are the key factors that define authentic business purpose?

  2. Our research suggests that investors are an under-utilised and often overlooked source of expertise and support for companies who are serious about embedding purpose. What are the ways that investors and other stakeholders can influence how a business behaves and performs?

  3. What are your best examples of how companies and investors collaborate to embed purpose authentically into business? Our research suggests that there could be three areas in which collaboration between investors and companies would be particularly fruitful: Materiality, Leadership, and Impact - what could this mean in reality?


This is a text-based discussion. There will be no video or audio. Please post your comments below. After the live session, this discussion will remain open, so please do continue to share your insights. To receive a free summary of this discussion afterwards, register here

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1 Like

Hi Looking forward to starting the session in 10 mins

Thank you @KatieH, looking forward to it too.

Hi @KatieH and @CamilleLePors! looking forward to the discussion.

Welcome to today’s online written discussion. Could we start by everyone introducing themselves?

Hi, Im Ben Kellard and lead CISL’s business strategy advisory work. I help leading businesses to develop and implement holistic leading strategies that include evidence-based ambitions. I specialise in developing best-practice approaches to develop and integrate a sustainable purpose into an organisation. I hosted a roundtable of purpose and sustainability experts to propose a definition of a sustainable purpose. You can find it at
Looking forward to the discussion.

I currently lead Impact Agora, which is a new industry initiative to convene an institutional marketplace for impact investing. It brings together accelerators, venture funds, corporates, wealth managers, and family offices who invest in, and share, impact deals and funds. We launched officially in April 2020 with sponsorship from Barclays and we currently have 36 organisations as members and 19 live deals (including venture funds that are raising). You can find out more at

Good morning, my name is Anita McBain and I am Head of Responsible Investing at M&G

Thanks Katie, Hi everyone. I am Camille Le Pors and I lead the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB) at the World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA). Through benchmarking and through its alliance, WBA seeks to incentivise and accelerate companies’ efforts towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The CHRB looks at how companies perform on human rights specifically. I am based in London.

**Hello! I’m Charlene Cranny. I’m Comms and Campaigns Director at UKSIF (UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association).

As well as working with industry members on sustainable finance policy and learning I direct campaigns like Good Money Week and collaborate to support others such as the COP26 Race to Zero.

My special interests are climate and equality. I’m also interested in mental health issues.**

Hi Everyone and thank you for being here. I am the Purpose Challenge director at Business Fights Poverty. Over the past year, we have explored the topic of purpose, and how it can be embedded authentically into business through a collaborative Challenge process supported by GSK, Unilever and Visa. Looking forward to share some of our learnings today!

1 Like

Toniic is a global membership organization for impact investors. I’m looking forward to this discussion and learning more about this program. At Toniic, im fortunate to be able to work on most of our initiatives including developing programs for members and our public facing research initiatives.**

Good morning all! I’m Yasmina Zaidman, Chief Partnerships Officer at Acumen. Happy to be here to share some of our experiences.

Our first question today:

Q1. What examples are there of businesses delivering authentic sustainable purpose beyond the usual suspects? What are the key factors that define authentic business purpose?

Hi Everyone - Zahid Torres-Rahman here, CEO of Business Fights Poverty - really looking forward to this timely discussion!

Q1-I like the example of Umicore, an example of a super tanker that pivoted away from high polluting smelting into clean tech, circular economy. They did this through their new purpose ‘materials for a better life’ in 2001. This led to divestments out of its loss-leading copper and zinc smelters. It then entered new markets providing specialist materials for automotive catalysts, lithium-ion batteries and photovoltaic technologies. It increased its R&D budget tenfold over ten years, giving them a reputation in cutting edge technology including “urban mining”, recycling old devices. It’s now a materials technology and recycling company at the forefront of clean tech with a turnover of €13.7billion and lots of potential growth.


Hello all! I am Jonathan Gill and I am a Director in the Unilever Sustainability Team based in London. I work on strategy and external engagement and when I’m not cooped up in the house during Covid times I like to run, swim, golf and be entertained / drive mad by my 3-year old son.


@Jonathan, you make quarantine sound kind of fun!

1 Like

The integration of purpose in the core business is a key factor that for me distinguishes purposeful companies from the rest. When a sustainable purpose becomes a competitive advantage, Business becomes a true force for good. A good example of this is @Bosh. Their purpose is “invented for life” and it spans across all their products. From electric bicycles to digitalized medical devices.

Thank you and this is an excellent question. Investors actively engage with their investee companies on ESG issues and this helps us widen the aperture and more often than not, investors are able to elicit really impactful criteria that helps us to understand how deeply embedded sustainable purpose is in corporate culture.