The need to accelerate the transformation of the current economy into a purpose-driven economy is felt by a growing number of people. Companies want to remain relevant and have a net positive impact. The question is: how are we going to do that? You will get answers to this during Purpose Day XL on April 18 in Bussum. We spoke to the two driving forces behind this day: Ralph Zebregs and Folkert van der Molen.
They both believe that companies without a positive social impact no longer have a right to exist in the long term. Simply ‘limiting the damage’ is not enough; hence the theme of Purpose Day XL is: ‘The Road to Net Positive!’, which means that we should not settle for cautious compensatory behavior or a little less negative impact. It needs to be a bit sharper.
Ralph Zebregs primarily guides larger companies on a purposeful journey. “I understand the challenges within a large company. It is often the case that leadership has a vision and embraces purpose but is apprehensive about the significant transition required for it. I am familiar with the landscape where uncertainty and regulations play a role, so I can assist them in navigating it.” Five years ago, he organized the inaugural Purpose Day event. “You must comprehend that as a company, you are a part of an ecosystem. The only way to be truly successful is when the entire ecosystem thrives; ‘when our company grows, the well-being of the world grows.’ This entails adopting a generous attitude, and purpose serves as a means to help you remain mindful of it. Purpose is not an end in itself.”
According to Ralph, all our actions have an impact on the actions of others, and vice versa. “If companies understand that, we can take the step towards this new economy more easily. That is also the essence of net positivity. We are currently at a ‘loss,’ so we have to give more to achieve a positive balance.” He finds the path towards net positivity much more interesting than the path towards neutrality. “That requires creativity, reinventing yourself. And you have to work together with the parties in your supply chain to find solutions.
[streamer] ‘Net positive requires creativity, reinventing yourself.’
There is an impressive list of speakers lined up for Purpose Day XL. People like Paul Polman (ex-Unilever), Ruud Veltenaar (scientivist and progressor), Michel Driessen (Verstegen), Bart Nollen (Dayrize), Hajar Yagkoubi (former UN youth representative) and Liesbeth Mol (board member Deloitte Netherlands) are on stage to engage the audience in their vision of net positivity. The chairman of the day is Yvette Watson (The 2B Collective). ‘Paul Polman was one of the first CEOs who brought together the two “separate parts” profit and purpose. That requires leadership and vision.’
There is a big gaping gap between ‘knowing’ and ‘doing’, Ralph notes. He shares this opinion with the Impact Center Erasmus. ‘According to the ICE researchers, we can jointly decide to make the Netherlands CO2 neutral before the end of the year. That is why I am happy that Ruud Veltenaar is going to speak about why we allow ourselves to be seduced into that hole, how we can get out of it and get into action mode.’ Finally, Ralph points out that you must be able to look back at the effect of your actions, measure your impact. ‘For example, we will soon be able to measure the footprint of each product. That enables us to make better choices.’
According to Folkert van der Molen, who as founder stopped organizing the National Sustainability Congress after twenty editions, Purpose Day XL will not be an average conference. ‘People go home with a net positive thought, they are guided by inspiration. We want to make a lasting impact with this day.’ He emphasizes that the younger generations are also involved. ‘Hajar Yagkoubi, on behalf of generation Z, will discuss future leadership with Paul Polman and Liesbeth Mol. That promises to be a lively discussion.’ In addition to an inspiring main program, there are practice-oriented theme sessions on enhanced reporting, determining strategy, useful transition tools, becoming climate neutral, measuring impact, defining purpose, and much more. Folkert: ‘You can also get in touch with the best parties that can help you become net positive at the “Purpose Fair”.’