Do corporations have a role to play in contemporary progressive advocacy? And does it make any difference? Marguerite Pettit, senior campaign strategist with New York-based agency Purpose, will explore how she has approached corporate activism, what worked, what didn’t and what it can lead to, when she speaks at the self-styled “conscious capitalism revolution” conference in Sydney in early December.
Confusingly called Purpose, the conference is no way related to the agency even though expat Australian Pettit from Purpose will be among the headline speakers. Do we need to run you over that one more time? The conference is called Purpose and one of its speakers is from an agency also called Purpose. We good? Okay let’s move on.
Purpose (the agency) says it builds 21st century movements. It works with organisations and socially conscious companies to mobilise large-scale, purposeful action, as well as develop and launch its own social and consumer movements.
“As pioneers in the development of cutting-edge techniques for mass digital participation, movement building and self-organisation, we have built a rapidly growing business around this increasingly valuable expertise. Our work combines emerging technology with key insights from political organizing, behavioral economics, brand strategy, business strategy and visual and interaction design,” it says.
As a strategist at Purpose, Pettit has worked on a wide variety of high-impact projects from gun safety to engaging millennials on sustainability through to climate change.
Purpose (the conference) will be held in Sydney on 5-6 December. Attendees will be “an eclectic gathering of big ideas, brands and personalities leading the conscious capitalism revolution will converge, drawn together by a shared belief that changing the world begins with the companies we choose to buy from.”
With a projected $30 trillion in spending power at stake in 15 years when millennials – who overwhelmingly purchase, work and live according to ethical values – comprise 75 per cent of the workforce, this community of ‘progressive’ values-led consumers will soon become the powerful majority.
International trailblazers in the business of doing good while making money who headline this year’s conference include Buddhify founder Rohan Gunatillake, who will share his thoughts on ethics that should apply to Silicon Valley; Thankyou founders Justine and Daniel Flynn, who will talk about their combine and conquer ethos; and Lush Australia director Peta Granger, who will discuss the journey from being merely sustainable to becoming regenerative.
Age-old industry stereotypes will be overthrown: Marque Lawyers founder Michael Bradley, an outspoken campaigner for human rights and against the commodification of the practice of law, is committed to seeing lawyers become “socially useful agents for change”.
Powershop, Australia’s first and only ethical, green power startup uses gamification to help customers reduce energy consumption and insists we should all buy less of what it sells.
Alliance Bank, a member-owned and independent joint venture between Bendigo and Adelaide Bank and the Alliance Partners, invests profits in initiatives that generate positive, measurable, social and environmental impacts.
Australian Ethical, the country’s largest specialist ethical investment manager, is proving that investing in initiatives such as stopping sex trafficking, rather than gambling, coal and weapons, doesn’t just make sense for the planet but also for the performance of your superannuation.
Sex toys that raise funds for sexual and reproductive health, tiles modelled on forest floors and gecko toes, and a travel company thriving on Maori seven-generation wisdom is a snapshot of the program’s diversity of industries and ideas.
Purpose creator and curator Sally Hill, a driving force in building the purpose-driven business movement, said this new way of doing business was here to stay.
“Whole Foods cofounder John Mackey famously said the best way to maximise profits was not to make profits a primary goal. Businesses are beginning to wake up to this,” Hill said.
“There will be a seismic shift as millennials mature into the key demographic in the workforce, with the power to make decisions and control wealth. Yesterday’s ‘tree-huggers’ have given birth to a new generation of movers and shakers who will have a seat in the boardroom.
“Purpose is doubling in size this year, testament to the increased awareness of the power of business to do good.”