Are Purpose and Profit at Odds? How to Have Both

Available for Interviews: Nell Derick Debevoise

Nell Derick Debevoise is the Founder & CEO of Inspiring Capital and the author of the new book, Going First: Find the Courage to Lead Purposefully and Inspire Action is available on Amazon.

What Nell Derick Debevoise can say in an interview on
Profit & Purpose:

        • The idea that building purpose into your business, or improving your social or environmental impact, is a cost, is wrong. Connecting your work to a larger purpose is increasingly expected by customers, employees, community members, and investors. But when done right, this is a win-win-win all around, because it will help your business’s profitability and sustainability too. 

        • Purposeful businesses reduce costs and increase revenue by better engaging employees. When it’s clear why the business exists, and that it’s not just to help shareholders get richer, people are willing to work harder and smarter. Further, they stay longer and are better ambassadors for the company.

A great example is from The Container Store. In the 2008 recession, they committed to not laying anyone off, which required major cost reductions. Without being asked to, several employees took it upon themselves to call all major suppliers and renegotiate prices and the terms of their contracts to save the company money and preserve cash.

        • When people know what your company stands for, product innovation also improves—they are motivated and clear about the goal everyone is trying to achieve and can be creative to get there even in challenging times. 

For example, Leesa, the mattress company, had to completely rethink its distribution when Covid hit and retail shopping ground to a halt. They also had a promising new product in the works, but production was in a state of chaos as well. Finally, as a certified B Corp and values-driven company, they wanted to do something to help address the pandemic. After salary reductions across the company to avoid layoffs, the whole team met daily to align on these challenges. 

Within 3 weeks, they had designed and shipped 4,000 hospital bed kits specifically designed for respiratory patients. The new product was released after 4 months of development—about half their normal time. This example demonstrates the power of purpose to align and motivate your employees, ever more important in today’s fast-changing business environment.

        • Finally, investors are starting to understand that purpose is not just nice to have, it’s a critical way to reduce risk, as well as saving marketing costs and increasing customer loyalty. 

There have now been several versions of favorable financing for companies increasing their positive impact to their own unique purpose. Danone for example, got a discount on their interest rate from BNP Paribas if they met certain targets for sustainability goals.

        • By authentically working toward a larger purpose, your company can attract the best people, as workers, customers, and investors. And that is good for business!


Interview: Nell Derick Debevoise

Nell Derick Debevoise is the Founder & CEO of Inspiring Capital and helps purpose-driven leaders expand their impact, grow their businesses, and build legacies—partnering with leaders and companies that are good for the people and the planet around them. Her approach is informed by her experience living and working on 4 continents; studying at Harvard, Cambridge, Columbia, and London Business Schools; and in working with CEOs, and other people-leaders of American Express, Cisco, Google, and hyper-growth startups in the health, consumer, and fintech sectors. She’s a Senior Contributor to Forbes, and her first book, Going First: Find the Courage to Lead Purposefully and Inspire Action is available on Amazon.

Going First: Find the Courage to Lead Purposefully and Inspire Action (Purposeful Leadership Book 1) by [Nell Derick Debevoise]

Jo Allison
Managing Editor
Director of Public Relations
Success In Media, Inc.

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