The Struggle To Follow Through On Your Corporate Purpose

Alexandra van der Ploeg

The world’s population today has the most knowledge ever available to help us achieve a world of equality, where people treat others as they expect to be treated. All businesses, big or small, want to make money, but they also want to share their successes and help others to achieve diversity and inclusion. But sometimes, it can be hard to find the right way to help make a difference because, at the end of the day, you’ve got to get your work done to keep your customers, employees, and stakeholders happy.

What if there was a simple way for you to make an impact on society without taking away resources from your daily business? Social enterprises have become mature and well-established businesses, providing reliable and high-quality services through regular procurement processes to businesses big and small, helping them to meet their business targets. Social enterprises are businesses that trade to intentionally tackle social problems, improve communities, provide people access to employment and training, or help the environment. Using the power of the marketplace to solve the most pressing societal problems, social enterprises are commercially viable businesses existing to benefit the public and the community, rather than shareholders and owners.

Social entrepreneurs play an important role in combatting inequality – they reduce poverty, build food systems, celebrate diversity, promote indigenous culture, meet health needs, create employment opportunities for those with disadvantages, deliver community-owned energy, and address environmental issues and social exclusion. Profit models vary between organizations.

If every business in the world engaged with just one social enterprise in its procurement process, the overall effect on the world could be enormous. The Social Enterprise World Forum is working to encourage corporations to engage with social enterprises and to help people to understand more. They’re providing a free online course, “How Social Enterprises Enhance Corporate Supply Chains,” that features representatives from big business, including Johnson & Johnson and PwC, and social enterprises who work with big business. Attendees can hear from both sides and see what experiences have been gained and how they can become involved.

I truly believe that this is the future – working together to meet our business goals and incorporating diverse suppliers can have an incredible impact on our world!

Learn the “Three Essential Attributes To Become A Purpose-Led Brand.”


Alexandra van der Ploeg

About Alexandra van der Ploeg

Alexandra van der Ploeg is Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at SAP globally. Alexandra is responsible for setting the strategic direction of CSR focused on bringing to life SAP’s higher purpose of “helping the world run better and improving people’s lives” through strategic partnerships and programs that deliver sustainable social impact and long-term business value. In this function she also oversees corporate giving, volunteerism and the development of multi-stakeholder partnerships for which Alexandra has a particular passion. Alexandra started with SAP Switzerland in charge of management development and over the course of the next ten years held various managerial positions in Human Resources. Moving into the CSR organization in 2010, Alexandra developed and managed various global CSR programs, such as building an infrastructure for social business in Haiti and the development of a range of pro-bono volunteering program, e.g. the SAP Social Sabbatical Portfolio. Alexandra also serves on the advisory council of IMPACT 2030 and is part of the Leadership Council of the Realized Worth Institute.