View from the boardroom: building a purpose-driven business

Speaking at the BNP Paribas Sustainable Future Forum, expert Feike Sijbesma explained why companies should place purpose at the core of their activities.


A growing recognition from the private sector on its role in tackling the climate crisis is putting sustainability at the top of boardroom agendas, whether international corporates, institutional investors or family offices.

How can companies balance long-term value creation with short-term results? And how can sustainability be harnessed as a competitive differentiator that also brings value to society?

As keynote speaker for the Amsterdam leg of the recent BNP Paribas Sustainable Future Forum,  Feike Sijbesma, Honorary Chair Royal DSM (former CEO), Chair Royal Philips Board Unilever & Board Dutch Central Bank, Board WEF – Co Chair CEO Climate Leaders, took his C-suite audience of on a personal and ethical journey. 

Sijbesma posits that to secure the long-term future of companies, we must consider the original purpose of an economy: not to make money, but as a distribution model based on our competencies to exchange goods and services, and live in a collaborative society.  

“Yes, we need to be performance-led; yes we need to make money, but we also need to invest in the future of our world, ecological and societal” Sijbesma explained.

Sijbesma also underlined the crucial role of leadership to unlock the impact business can have and to tackle societal challenges: “As leaders, you have power, impact and tools, as well as the responsibility to use them to make the world a better place.

“This means by definition, CSR as a trendy sideline activity is out. You need to put your purpose in the core of your business. You need to make your core business model something that does good for the world.”

Watch the full speech from the event:
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