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The Purpose Economy with Laurence Evans

Laurence Evans is the CEO of Reputation Leaders and a global thought leader on building trust and reputation. This week on the show, Laurence joins Carrie for a conversation that pushes against the boundaries of settled leadership assumptions.

Laurence’s journey into purpose-driven work began early, inspired by his father’s example as a mayor who made a significant difference in their community. His experiences at Edelman, working on groundbreaking projects like the Dove Report on Real Beauty Self-Esteem and the “Dirt is Good” campaign, solidified his belief that companies can pursue a purpose while also benefiting their brand. This realization led him to establish Reputation Leaders, with the aim of helping companies build positive reputations that create a virtuous circle.

Carrie and Laurence delve into the challenges CEOs face in speaking out on important issues without alienating key audiences. Laurence shares fascinating research revealing that while conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion have increased since George Floyd’s death, many CEOs lack a plan for addressing these topics. He emphasizes the importance of listening to employees, board members, and customers, as well as setting clear values and commitments to sustainability and DEI.

“Diversity is good for business,” he says. “Why do I believe that?”

First, embracing diversity opens up new, underserved markets. Second, bringing together people from diverse backgrounds leads to different perspectives and better decision-making.

“We rush into the emotional side of it and we don’t actually say, ‘You know what? There’s a very good reason why we’re doing this. It’s just good for business.’” The lesson, then, is that by framing DEI as a strategic business imperative, rather than a moral obligation, we can more effectively communicate the value and necessity of our DEI initiatives to a broader set of stakeholders.

For Laurence, leadership lessons boil down to the wisdom of everyday Americans, who increasingly believe CEOs should speak to environmental issues, refrain from taking sides on geopolitical issues, and address social issues that relate to their company’s values. Put simply: “When we asked people back in November, ‘What do you want companies to do most in 2024?’ The answer was integrity. We just want them to do what they say.”

This week’s show brings invaluable guidance for purpose-driven CEOs navigating a polarized world. The issues we face are many and they are significant. But if we learn anything from Laurence’s experience, sometimes simple statements of authenticity—repeated clearly—are the most valuable in building trust that lasts. Our great thanks to Laurence and Reputation Leaders for making this conversation possible.

This season, we are taking you on a journey to meet ten people influencing and shaping how we communicate at scale for social change. From advertising executives to coalition directors, news editors, campaign managers, and authors, they’re all people who are shaping and challenging the deep power of communication. If you’re working to become a more inclusive and thoughtful communicator, there’s nothing holding you back—except you.
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