Chief Executive Insights

Want to attract top talent? Share your purpose stories.

Most companies will have a stated purpose, often accompanied by a set of values. Sadly, these purpose statements remain words on a page and are very rarely communicated in an engaging way that people connect with. This includes both customers and employees, as well as potentials customers and employees.

The concept of the war for talent is not new and increasingly companies are searching for more effective ways to attract high achieving employees. Sharing a story to demonstrate the company purpose is a valuable method. Especially with a whole generation looking for greater alignment between their own purpose and values and that of the companies they work for.

A great example of a purpose story comes from the Australian company Goodwill Wine, founded by David Laity. The company share this story in many places including their website. Some extracts include:

Ten years ago, I lost most of what I owned in the Black Saturday bushfires. I was grateful to be alive and very humbled at how Australians stepped up to help.

Because of the money you dropped into donation tins around the country, I was able to start again. With a powerful new motivation to drive me on, I made it my mission to ‘pay forward’ the incredible generosity shown to me.

I started a business that gave back 50% of everything I earned, and I gave it to the charities my customers cared most about.

And so with the $15,000 given to me by people like you, Goodwill Wine was born.

If you ever needed justification to drink some wine, this is it. Besides showing why the company started, they expand on their purpose story by providing examples of the impact they are having such as…

Since then, Goodwill Wine has given back $385,000. This money has:

  • Bought fire-fighting equipment, hi-vis wet weather gear and defibrillators for volunteer fire brigades.
  • Provided over 180,000 meals for people living in poverty here in Australia.
  • Funded four International Animal Cruelty Investigations for Animals Australia.
  • Helped re-home 47 orangutans.
  • Played a role in introducing a plastic bag ban in Queensland.
  • De-sexed, vaccinated, microchipped, wormed and re-homed over 100 dogs and 150 cats.
  • Saved 12 Whales for Sea Shepherd by paying for fuel for their Southern Ocean campaigns.
  • We employ disadvantaged Australians. Half of our team come from either long-term unemployment or are living with a disability. Our aim is to donate more than one million dollars to charity – by selling quality wine at below cellar-door prices.

I contacted David to ask about the impact the story has had and he informed me that ‘it has played a major part of the growth of the business’. The stories help ‘both his customers and employees to really connect with the purpose’.

As the company grew, David was tempted to stop telling his story about why the company started but realised that customers connect with this purpose story, and it also motivates his growing number of employees.

Companies should consider where and how they share their purpose stories to attract top talent. Attention should also be given to how these stories can be used to continually engage and excite current employees. They therefore need to be shared via both internal and external channels and should form the basis of any good induction program.

A company’s purpose will remain as words on a page if it is not brought to life by sharing stories about how the company is delivering on its goals. Sharing purpose stories not only helps retain top talent but will also attract high achievers.


Written by Gabrielle Dolan. Have you read?
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Gabrielle Dolan
Gabrielle Dolan is a global expert on business storytelling and real communication. Her latest book Magnetic Stories: Connect with Customers and Engage Employees with Brand Storytelling is available now. Gabrielle, prefers to be called Ral – especially by those she has previously met. She has an MBA and has also completed studies at Harvard which is arguably to compensate for when she failed final year English. A highly sought-after keynote speaker, educator and author, Gabrielle has worked with thousands of high-profile leaders from around the world and helped countless of Australia’s top 50 companies and multinationals to humanise their communications – Telstra, EY, Accenture, VISA, Australia Post, National Australia Bank, Amazon, Vodafone and the Obama Foundation to name drop a few. Gabrielle Dolan is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow her on LinkedIn, Instagram, and LinkedIn.