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Deloitte survey: Middle East executives feel more strongly than US and European CEO's about the importance of business's societal purpose to future success

At the World Economic Forum 2012, Deloitte will share the results of a global survey exploring business leaders' attitudes on the purpose, impact, and leadership of business on society. The survey, sponsored by Deloitte and conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), found that more than three quarters of the respondents (76%) believe that the value of a company should be measured by the positive contribution its core business makes to society, as well as by its profits.

Furthermore, of the leaders surveyed, 73% believe that their core business activities make a positive contribution to society. 

There is clear variation between regions around the globe on societal purpose. Respondents in Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, feel most strongly about the importance of societal purpose as essential for future success (75%), a business strategy that is here for the long haul (71%), and essential for attracting the next generation of customers and employees (66%). This group also feels more strongly than US and European CEO's about the importance of societal purpose to future success, and the role of governments as leading the way in addressing society's challenges

"This survey sparks an important dialogue about the role of business in building a better society," said Omar Fahoum, Deloitte Middle East chairman, and chief executive. 

"Within the Deloitte network, we believe there is opportunity for this 'societal purpose' to be integrated into a business's core activities, decisions, and identity. It is through this embedded purpose, in turn, that businesses can inspire positive economic, environmental, and social change."

Silent Contribution

The study showed that while 82% of business leaders surveyed said their organization had a formal statement detailing its "societal purpose," and 52% said that this formal statement of purpose was essential for attracting the next generation of customers and employees, only 25% thought that this purpose was well known by their customers, consumers, or clients. This suggests that businesses can do a better job of communicating the contribution and impact that their core activities have on society.

Deloitte Millennial Views

Alongside the EIU survey, Deloitte examined the opinions of more than 1,000 Deloitte member firm Millennials (employees joining the organization who were born after 1981) on their views regarding the impact business has on society. More than half (52%) believe that in the future, business, more than any other area of society, will achieve the greatest impact in solving society's biggest challenges. Furthermore, 92% of the respondents believe that the success of a business should be measured by more than just profit, suggesting that a company's "societal purpose" is a key priority and expectation of the Millennial generation.

"CEOs' voices are being joined by an emerging generation of future business leaders who see personal responsibility, corporate responsibility, and societal responsibility as one continuous line," said Rana Ghandour Salhab, regional Talent and Communications partner, Deloitte Middle East. 

"There's a real appetite for new ideas, original insights, and spirited debate, and with this research, we are engaging today's business leaders to examine the purpose, impact, and leadership expected of business in society."

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