Beyond the Building - Purpose versus Profit

The Henderson Executive Team explores the meaning of "Beyond the Building" and the concept of purpose versus profit driven companies.

We're often asked by our peers, colleagues, and clients in the industry about Henderson’s tag line “Beyond the Building” and what it means. It’s an excellent question and one that the leadership at Henderson has decided to make the primary focus of our company. We as a company have decided that purpose not profit should be our primary focus both internally and externally. We're sure we've left a few of you scratching your heads and questioning the validity of such a statement. Daniel H. Pink, in his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us uses TOMS Shoes to illustrate this concept:

TOMS doesn’t fit snugly into the traditional business boxes. It offers hip, canvas, flatsoled shoes. But every time TOMS sells a pair of shoes to you, me or your next-door neighbor, it gives away another pair of new shoes to a child in a developing country. Is TOMS a charity that finances its operation with shoe sales, or is it a business that sacrifices its earnings in order to do good? It’s neither – and it’s both. The answer is so confusing, in fact, that TOMS Shoes had to address the question directly on its website, just below information on how to return a pair that’s too big. TOMS, the site explains, is “a for-profit company with giving at its core.”

It’s an interesting concept. While Henderson has always been a philanthropic company and has always supported “just cause sponsorships,” we would argue purpose as a core value is something else. Companies with purpose as a part of their core business have historically been associated with non-profits. So the question and the challenge becomes, as a for-profit company, how do we make purpose an authentic core value and not just a catchphrase? How do we bridge the divide, as TOMS has done, that has existed between for-profit and non-profit organizations, how do we measure and report this progress, and how do we create sustainability? This is something Henderson, Inc. has decided to get behind and get excited about. This is “Beyond the Building,” and as Pink stated, it can be confusing.

Stay tuned as we continue to explore this topic…

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