Toys and games manufacturer Hasbro has appointed its first-ever chief purpose officer to lead the company’s new Global Purpose Organisation: a department that aims to accelerate efforts to enhance the firm’s positive impacts.
Announced in an 8 January statement, the division merges a handful of older business units – namely, Global Government Relations, Corporate Social Responsibility, Sustainability, Global Communications and Ethical Sourcing, plus Philanthropy and Social Impact – placing all their strategic functions under one roof. (Hasbro via Business Wire, 8 January 2021)
Tasked with overseeing the division’s activities is long-serving Hasbro executive Kathrin Belliveau, who joined the firm in 1997 as an attorney and went on to hold leadership roles linked to the formation of the company’s global government relations practice, along with its ethical sourcing and product safety programs.
Belliveau was also instrumental in the creation and evolution of Hasbro’s CSR and ESG strategies. She will report directly to the firm’s chairman and CEO Brian Goldner.
“Rapidly evolving global, environmental and social issues have highlighted the importance of corporate purpose now more than ever,” Belliveau said. “I’m excited to work with Brian, our senior leadership team and our talented teams across the globe as we create a new organisation to further embed purpose into everything we do and positively impact the world for years to come.”
Goldner himself added: “Hasbro has a proud legacy as a responsible corporate citizen and the extraordinary events of the past year have reinforced the importance of putting our purpose and values at the centre of all that we do.”
He noted: “As a global play and entertainment company, we have an opportunity – as well as a responsibility – to use our business as a force for good and convener of progress. I am confident that Kathrin’s appointment to chief purpose officer and the creation of the new Global Purpose Organisation will allow us to harness the full power of our efforts.”
For the past nine years, the Ethisphere Institute has consistently recognised Hasbro as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies. The firm has also achieved a top ranking in 3BL Media’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens list.
What should leaders learn from Hasbro’s move to integrate and boost its purpose-related functions so they are more deeply enmeshed with the wider business?
The Institute of Leadership & Management’s head of research, policy and standards Kate Cooper says: “This is an ethically driven coming together of a set of once disparate functions, in step with the broader shift among corporates from internal to external CSR. So now, the mandate for the types of ethical behaviour that shape and define the company’s purpose is no longer on the sidelines, but central to how the organisation operates.”
She notes: “One point that really stands out here is the decision to move Ethical Sourcing into the new division, bringing procurement under the umbrella of purpose. While it may seem obvious that corporates wield significant power as purchasers of other firms’ goods and services, procurement could be subject to other sorts of criteria if it is not intrinsically linked to a purpose-based mission. So, by putting all these functions together, Hasbro has ensured that everyone in the organisation will understand that mission, and how purpose translates into their everyday activities.”
Cooper explains: “This is a very different proposition to special events, in which a corporate’s external CSR wing will sponsor a series of one-off initiatives in partnership with stakeholders or advocacy groups. What we are now seeing is a broad move away from such ventures, towards a model in which purpose-based objectives are tightly interwoven with the business’s daily workings. One imagines that this shift will continue as other firms come to recognise – as Hasbro has – that all these different facets of their businesses are in fact parts of a holistic whole.”
She adds: “If we go back to a very early definition of policies, it states that they are guidelines for decision making. So, a policy that encourages a pervasive approach to ethical business practice will set the tone for decision making throughout the organisation.”
For further insights on the themes raised in this blog, check out the Institute’s resources on social responsibility
Image of Hasbro action figures for Disney+ show The Mandalorian courtesy of Willrow Hood, via Shutterstock