What does your Mission Statement say about you?

Is the mission of your business to benefit all stakeholders or to create profit for shareholders? The term “stakeholder” was originally coined at Stanford Research Institute in 1963 to describe “those groups without whose support the organization would cease to exist.” 

There are many publicly-traded companies whose mission is to maximize value for shareholders. While this singular focus makes the internal planning process easier, it does leave a whole raft of stakeholders out of the equation. I wonder how invested employees can be in working for a company whose primary, publicly-stated goal, is to make money for shareholders. In the hierarchy of customers, employees and shareholders, who should be at the top? I would argue employees are unquestionably a company’s greatest asset. Without employees providing value for customers, there would be no customers and no profit for shareholders. 

Many companies don’t have a mission statement. It is a task that is deemed to be of lesser importance than myriad other competing planning and operational priorities. However, your mission statement is an important representation of who and what you are to the rest of the world and your internal customers (employees) and external customers (including suppliers) are paying attention. Stakeholders are becoming more savvy and interested in working for, patronizing, and investing in companies whose missions align with their own values.  

In writing this, I reviewed our own organizational mission, which is: “… to make a positive difference for members by providing a voice and services that shape the environment for business.” It’s good. But I think we can do better. 


Denny Warner,

Executive Director



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