Beyond the bottom line – why businesses need a purpose

In following our purpose we can energise other businesses to meet theirs

Electricity, like so many industries today, is changing at a rapid pace. Technology and data are transforming both the industry itself and its relationship with consumers, while renewables are shifting where electricity comes from and how the system operates. In eras of transition, when few have clear views of the future, it’s crucial that businesses remain focused on their goals and values, beyond just revenue, to steer them through times of disruption and change.

This is often referred to as a company’s ‘purpose’ and it acts as a guiding North Star for businesses in meeting challenges or opportunities, in any industry.

Drax’s purpose is “helping to change the way energy is generated, supplied and used for a better future”. This strong sense of purpose was one of the key factors for me, personally in moving into the electricity industry.

We have an unprecedented chance to be a part of the zero carbon future and the purpose we share across the business is key to grasping that. But for Drax purpose is not just about what drives us. As the largest supplier of renewable electricity to UK businesses, we are in the unique position of being able to help other companies follow their purpose and meet their own sustainable business goals.

Why purpose pays off

Business today is about more than just the bottom line. There is a growing recognition in the role companies play in the lives of their employees and consumers, in wider society and the well-being of the planet.

The hard-nosed business people of the past might ask: why does this matters? How does a company’s stance on social issues, for example, impact revenue or value to shareholders? However, evidence shows that businesses with a strong sense of purpose foster more engaged employees, are more innovative, retain more customers, and even make more money.

And it starts with people. A sense of being a part of something bigger than yourself is a strong influence on people. It attracts the best talent and enables them to deliver with passion. This not only inspires a greater level of engagement in employees, but drives them to go further for clients, as well as fostering creativity and innovation.

At a time when innovation and ability to adapt to changes are more and more valued by businesses, purpose unites workforces and enables companies to implement new ideas and transform themselves more quickly.

It was the desire for a strong guiding purpose that brought me into the electricity industry. The Paris Climate Agreement brought greenhouse gas emissions into the forefront of global thinking, and the opportunity to be a part of meeting this monumental challenge, and creating a net-zero future still plays a strong role in what drives me every day.

Of course, sustainability is not just part of Drax’s purpose. More people than ever around the world care deeply about our planet, many believe climate change is our biggest threat. As a result, sustainable business is now an important part of many different types of companies’ purpose.

Helping others follow their purpose

Drax is in a position to not only help move the UK towards much lower carbon electricity generation, but to also enable other businesses to meet their own sustainability goals.

An increasing number of businesses are generating their own electricity from renewable sources. These so-called prosumers can also sell electricity back to the grid when they have excess power, offering an opportunity for new revenue

One such business is a farm outside of Solihull in the West Midlands, where since 2014 it has generated its own electricity from solar panels. This is now the site of Drax Retail’s first Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) batteries. It means that rather than just selling electricity back to the grid via Opus Energy in real time, the farm can store electricity and sell it to grid when it needs it most and the price is higher.

It is just one example of a commercial benefit for a business that make sustainability a part of its purpose. And research by Haven Power found that 78% of small businesses want to use energy efficiency as a means of saving money.

Having a purpose inspires the people who make businesses successful and gives the business direction. Our purpose of helping to decarbonise the UK allows us to help other businesses follow their purposes too.