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Survey pulse checks people’s sentiment towards work and purpose

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work and purpose

Social impact agency, DrawHistory, in partnership with B Lab Australia & Aotearoa New Zealand (B Lab AANZ), the nonprofit building the Certified B Corporation movement to change our economic system, has launched its inaugural “Purpose in Progress” survey, designed to be a pulse check on the sentiment of people towards work and purpose since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first of its kind, the annual survey specifically focuses on people aged between 20-40, Millennials and Gen Z, who comprise much of today’s workforce. It’s designed to assess shifts in their sentiment on what they consider to be their purpose and how it impacts their work and life, and offer progressive workplaces with insights on what current and prospective employees are thinking and feeling.

The survey aims to secure 2,000 respondents from the region each year in countries such as Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines, with qualitative and quantitative insights to share online. Timed to coincide with the celebration of DrawHistory’s 7th anniversary, the survey represents a milestone in the values and capabilities of the agency as a social purpose organisation.

“We are so proud to launch this survey, which we feel really speaks to the kind of value and change we seek to make in the world as an organisation. It feels so fitting we’re able to launch as we receive our recertification as a B Corp, which for us means undertaking to
do better in all aspects of our business, for people and the planet,” said Angel Chen, Cofounder and Accounts Director at DrawHistory.

“This initiative is also exciting for us because we get to create the space for people to interrogate for themselves what it really means to be purpose-driven,” says Angel Chen.

“Working on the launch of the project has also given us a chance to hold the mirror up on ourselves and reflect on why we do what we do, thinking specifically about how we can achieve real-world impacts rather than just aspiration for change. Many years on in our
journey, it’s been really meaningful and stimulating for us as a business.”

B Lab AANZ has also come on board as a partner of this initiative, an endorsement of the intention and capacity of the survey to deliver real insights, and with it avenues for change in businesses.

Andrew Davies, CEO at B Lab AANZ, said: “The pandemic, among other global forces, has raised important questions for people around purpose in their professional lives. At the same time, we’ve seen huge demand for B Corp certification throughout the last two years; evidence that an increasing number of businesses are seeing the need to pursue positive impact and be transparent about it with their stakeholders. The consistent feedback I hear is that the movement for businesses to create change is consistently driven from the ground up, from employees and from customers.”

Andrew added: “The B Corp movement is not just about developing better workplace practices — it is about sparking transformative and continuous improvement throughout the entire business value chain and being held accountable for it. We know that when people can do good in their work, in particular when they are engaged in change, it is fulfilling work and they can connect to a higher social and environmental purpose.”

Here are early, emerging insights from more than 300 respondents so far:

  1. The pandemic has been a catalyst for refinement more than reset. 54% of respondents indicated that the pandemic itself didn’t completely reshape the purpose of respondents, but rather brought clarity on what matters in life.
  2. Business actions speak louder than business words. Respondents looked for more than business vision. Having a purpose statement won’t be enough to attract them, but a policy change as simple as more parental leave might.
  3. The engine rooms of purpose are still personal. While acknowledging the social nature of purpose, the majority of respondents identified their source of purpose as coming from “their innate selves” while their ideal practice of purpose was “doing what I love”. In terms of the most important influences that help shape this sense of purpose, their families, friends and teachers were the most frequently cited influences.
  4. The personal freedom to do good. Respondents mostly prioritised a desire to be empowered to do what they believe is right, above needing to work for an explicit purpose-driven organization or workplace.

The survey is now open. To participate, go to drawhistory.com/purposesurvey.

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