The rise of authentic purpose will drive the Middle East region

Purpose is no longer an optional extra - it is a must have, must do, for any future-focused organisation that wants success with longevity, says Teri O'Donnell, CEO of UAE-headquartered Manara Global.

Teri O’Donnell, CEO of UAE-headquartered Manara Global
Teri O’Donnell, CEO of UAE-headquartered Manara Global

We have seen the rise of purpose move into the mainstream for organisations, businesses and governments around the world, and it being strategically woven into the fabric of their plans for reputation management.

This trend is increasingly occurring in the Middle East and especially with those organisations with global operations, touch points and ambitions.

Purpose is no longer a ‘nice to have’, an optional extra, a side initiative or an evolved CSR platform. It is a ‘must have’ and must do for any future-focused organisation that wants success with longevity.

Therefore, it needs to be more than just a statement, it needs to form and be aligned with the DNA of the organisation and become the expression of what it does, why it is here and what it stands for.

The societal expectation has been evolving to demand more from brands, organisations and businesses – they want to know that the brand that they are forming or have formed a relationship with is operating in a positive way towards society, to their communities and with the humans they touch. People care what brands do, say and how they operate.

However, this purpose needs to be authentic to the organisation and powered by empathy. People want to see and believe in organisations who are actively demonstrating empathy and understanding towards the wants, needs and expectations of its consumers, its partners, suppliers and the communities in which they operate within.

People make choices to establish a relationship with a brand because they are aligning with their personal beliefs and values – for example, the war on plastic packaging, people are actively making decisions now that are driving behaviour changes, they care about having clean oceans free of plastic and that marine life is not being negatively impacted by it.

In a region that is based on societies with strong values and is community focused, the rise of purpose is a natural alignment for organisations to demonstrate their place in the world fully.

Increasingly, we are working with businesses and organisations in the region who either lack a ‘north star’ or want to refresh it, and defining their purpose is not only filling a void for them but it is setting a course for a more successful way of operating which is profitable and sustainable for the long term.

This purpose-based ‘North Star’ is a fundamental motivation for the business, which then navigates the journey that inspires the vision and the development of both the corporate and communication strategies.

Purpose is a unifier - it unifies the organisation, its staff, consumers, partners and the communities they operate within. Organisations that fulfil their purpose will reap the long term rewards as they are making the right decisions, demonstrating relevance to their stakeholders and the world around them.

Larry Fink, the chairman and CEO of Blackrock, sums up purpose very eloquently when he describes the need for purpose as "without a sense of purpose, no company can achieve its full potential". Over the coming months, we will see more businesses and organisations in the region define their purpose and navigate towards reaching their full long-term and sustainable potential.

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