Valerie Keller, Executive Director, Strategy, and Global Leader of the EY Beacon Institute looks at the history of business transformation and argues that purpose-led transformation is unique and therefore more effective than the pursuit of profit, given that it establishes a clear reason for firms to exist.

Profit-centric business models are primarily concerned with what companies do and how they do it. Contrast this with purpose-centric business models which start by defining why the company exists. They address the ‘why’ first – and the ‘what’ and ‘how’ afterwards.

Unilever is a great example of a large corporate that has maintained its focus on purpose-led growth over the past 125 years. Today it has literally millions of people keen to join the organisation. These people want to improve others’ lives as opposed to simply adding to Unilever’s bottom line.