More Than Mission-Washing: What Being Mission-Driven Truly Means

How eight companies are living their mission every day.

Written by Dana Cassell
Published on Nov. 28, 2023
More Than Mission-Washing: What Being Mission-Driven Truly Means
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Purpose at work is an essential element of job satisfaction. Research from McKinsey shows that about 70 percent of people find their life’s purpose in their job. Companies know this, and plenty of them claim to be “mission-driven,” promising that purpose will be built into any role. But simply claiming to offer purposeful work doesn’t always translate to the day-to-day operation of a business. This sort of posturing has become so ubiquitous that there’s even a new term coined to describe it: “mission-washing.”

How can job-seekers figure out if a potential employer actually walks their talk or is just “mission-washing”? Talking with current employees and asking direct questions about how they see the company’s mission at work in specific, daily ways can be a great way to discern. Built In invited tech workers from eight mission-driven companies to do just that.

We heard a wide range of examples illustrating how companies are integrating their mission into their every day work. Being truly mission-driven looks like practicing more effective collaboration across departments, enjoying clarity in the midst of tough decisions, and permission to really celebrate big wins together. 

At RapidDeploy, Director of Engineering Gateway Justin Jensen emphasized the power of hearing how the product makes a difference. “We don’t hear them every day, but we all look forward to “save stories,” situations in which our technology made the difference in someone’s life being saved or taken out of a dangerous situation,” he said.

Celebrating wins can help underscore the mission. “We celebrate helping pets and literally ring a bell to celebrate these milestones because they matter to us,” said Laura Bainbridge, senior vice president at Trupanion

When a company is truly mission-driven, treating their mission statement like a north star, employees can find both purpose and satisfaction.

 

 

Guilhem Isaac Georges
VP of Sustainability • Contentsquare

Contentsquare is a Software-as-a-Service platform that empowers brands to create better customer experiences on web, mobile, and apps.

 

What is your company's mission? What problem are you solving in bigger and better ways?

As a global leader in digital user analytics, there came a point when we had to think beyond our fast-paced growth and ask ourselves: how can we leverage our technology and influence to have a positive impact in our broader ecosystem? 

In 2021, we took our first steps by creating an impact team to assess where we stand and where we aim to go on our sustainability journey. Today, we’ve gone even further by legally becoming a mission-driven company with the following mission statement: 

"We empower businesses to create a world where everybody has a digital experience they love, seek and deserve — an experience that is accessible, inclusive, trustworthy and sustainable."

We focus on three key environmental and social streams. First, deeply conscious of our industry’s rising environmental footprint, we support our customers in reducing carbon emissions related to their digital activities. 

Second, with over 1 billion people struggling to access over 70 percent of the web, we work to make the digital world more accessible. Last but not least, with digital reliance comes concerns about privacy, which is why we value and uphold best behaviors when it comes to confidentiality and data privacy.

 

How does your mission help you and/or the business stay on track? 

Becoming a mission-driven company has been a big turning point for us. It enables a framework for accountability and transparency in our sustainability practices. 

Let’s take our environmental commitment as an example. We know that digital technologies have a major role to play in the transition to a low-carbon economy. At the same time, we can’t ignore the environmental consequences of our industry’s growing footprint: accounting for nearly four percent of global GHG emissions! 

So, how do you grow a company and cut carbon emissions at the same time? Well, we knew we had to start by looking within. 

The first step was for us to measure our carbon footprint, define a clear reduction trajectory and stick to it. We’ve aligned our own trajectory to the Paris Agreement, focusing on the three emission scopes and a first checkpoint in 2032. 

This fall, we submitted those targets to the Science Based Targets for validation. Business travel accounts for a third of our carbon emissions, so we implemented a stricter travel policy, especially for air travel. Our mission is embedded in our company strategy and culture, helping us bring about real change.

 

“Our mission is embedded in our company strategy and culture, helping us bring about real change.”

 

How can jobseekers cut through the fluff to determine whether a company has a mission worth supporting?

Take a close look at what kind of information a company shares regarding its sustainability efforts. While many organizations understand the importance of undergoing a sustainability transformation, true progress doesn’t happen overnight — it’s a long ride. 

Rather than looking for big successes, prioritize an organization’s authenticity and transparency. I would check 3 things: where a company is on their journey, whether they’ve identified key environmental and social challenges and if they have a clear plan or roadmap to achieve their commitments. 

Beyond communicating about programs and initiatives, being transparent on specific metrics and indicators is another clue that a company takes outcome accountability seriously. 

At Contentsquare, while we’ve certainly made some progress, our sustainability journey is only just getting started. In the spirit of transparency, we’re proud to share our very first Sustainability report which serves as a reflection of our commitment to accountability, progress, and an inclusive future; it can be found on our website.

 

 

Oseyi Ikuenobe
Head of Product, Orders & Checkout • Square

Square helps anyone take care of their business. Square’s complete register service is a full point of sale with tools for every part of running a business, from accepting credit cards to inventory tracking, and small business financing. 

 

What is your companys mission? What problem are you solving in bigger and better ways?

Our purpose is economic empowerment, pure and simple. We believe in an economy that has room for everyone’s dreams. We want to help anyone that has an idea or a dream, no matter how big or small, and to build a business that makes them financially independent and secure. 

This means working to remove any friction that gets in the way of commerce, be it ways to attract customers, ways to pay, ways to receive a product or the day to day operations of a business. We ground ourselves in deep empathy for the challenges of business owners and ensure that their growth is our north star.

 

“We ground ourselves in deep empathy for the challenges of business owners and ensure that their growth is our north star.”

 

There are many ways to do this, but we believe in our approach of making sure sellers have a suite of solutions that work together in a way that is not only simple, but also elegant and powerful. This means being willing to embrace complexity and do hard things. This is our secret sauce. We are willing to innovate by leaning into the hard problems that solve the fundamental challenges that restrict access to economic empowerment.

 

How does your mission help you and/or the business stay on track? 

We are one of the rare businesses that become more successful as our customers grow. Our mission to empower sellers to achieve their definition of success helps us to stay focused on solving their challenges versus our own. 

This relentless pursuit of addressing the needs of sellers allows us to continuously evolve with the changes in commerce norms and expectations.

The best example of this was during the pandemic in 2020: we were able to pivot our entire organization on a dime to focus on helping sellers survive initially, and then eventually thrive. The focus was not on “how are we going to survive the pandemic,” but rather “what can we do to make sure our customers can continue to make their payroll for their employees, take online orders, enable pickup, etc.?”

We marshaled our interconnected suite of solutions to help sellers adjust quickly to the challenges they were facing. I’m very proud of how we showed up for them when the rest of the world was falling apart.

My favorite example from that period was the “Give & Get Local” initiative that made it easy for consumers to support their local businesses by purchasing gift cards or placing delivery or pickup orders.

 

How can jobseekers cut through the fluff to determine whether a company has a mission worth supporting?

I usually recommend a few things.

Most mission-driven companies see themselves as servants of the needs of their customers, and this empathy will show up in everything they do. Mission-driven companies do this because it’s important to continuously be inspired by your mission. 

Our “For Every Dream” series is one of the reasons I joined Square several years ago, and I’m still inspired every time I watch these videos.

Secondly, consider whether or not the mission of the company is one that you believe is going to transform the lives of real people, either directly or indirectly. Missions that are worth supporting also need to be ambitious because they are attempting to solve a problem that is improbable to truly solve, but possible. That possibility becomes the fuel that drives the company and makes the work that they do exciting and inspiring.

Finally, listen to signals you get from the current employees of the company. Employees at truly mission-driven companies that are worth supporting are infectiously inspired by the work that they do and the people they work with. They will be able to personalize the impact of the work they do by sharing stories of how it has impacted real people.

 

 

Emily Beliveau
Senior Director, Business Operations • Uplight

Uplight is the leading provider of end-to-end customer-centric technology solutions dedicated solely to serving the energy ecosystem. More than 80 utilities around the globe use Uplight solutions to power their customer energy experience.

 

What is your companys mission? What problem are you solving in bigger and better ways?

Uplight’s mission is to motivate and enable energy users and providers to accelerate the clean energy ecosystem. We want to inspire action for people who use energy (home owners, renters, businesses) and companies providing energy (mostly utilities) so that we can speed up a low carbon future. 

What does it look like in practice? Picture this: it is a hot and humid summer day. You get home from work and it is sweltering. You turn on your A/C. You are one of millions of people turning on their A/C at the same time. This action requires the utility to turn on what is called a peaker power plant, one that stabilizes the grid when there is a lot of demand. 

What if the utility did not have to turn on that dirty power plant just to meet demand for a short time? What if your actions and the actions of your community were different?

We work with the energy users to change their behavior. We care about how much energy people use and when people use energy. We provide data on energy usage, give opportunities to buy rebated products to reduce energy and work with utilities to encourage folks to change how and when they use energy.

 

How does your mission help you and/or the business stay on track? 

My work focuses on providing value through diverse data-driven teams. One team, Insights, evaluates our programs’ performance and provides guidance for improvement. 

In a recent analysis, we examined program opt-outs and discovered a correlation with consecutive demand response events during peak electricity usage. It was evident that strategically targeting event locations could significantly reduce strain on customers, leading to improved outcomes for the environment.

This analysis aligns with our broader mission, which extends beyond client value. Each demand response event involves orchestrating a reduction in megawatts, creating more grid stability and reducing the need to turn on additional peaker power plants. By retaining customers and reducing opt-outs, we not only drive client value but also make a positive impact on the environment.   

In this context, device orchestration is paramount to our mission. It involves managing various devices to ensure optimal performance. Device orchestration is crucial as it harmonizes device operations, minimizes energy consumption and enhances system efficiency, ultimately contributing to a greener, more sustainable future.

 

How can jobseekers cut through the fluff to determine whether a company has a mission worth supporting?

As someone who cares deeply about sustainability, it can sometimes be hard to determine what is greenwashing and what is authentic. I have stayed with Uplight for eight years because this company does walk its talk. 

 

“As someone who cares deeply about sustainability, it can sometimes be hard to determine what is greenwashing and what is authentic.”

 

Our mission relates to how we do the work as much as the work itself. Uplight is a certified B Corp, a designation given by a third party, B Labs, who acknowledged we have verified performance, accountability and transparency in the following categories: governance, workers, community, environment and customers. 

Sustainability is not just about supporting a clean environment, it is also about taking care of people. Uplight takes care of its people. Uplight encourages employees to spend time volunteering in our communities or join one of many sponsored community volunteer days. 

We maintain transparency at every organizational level, providing updates on our progress toward annual financial targets during each quarterly all-hands meeting. Uplight has fantastic benefits to take care of its people including generous health insurance contributions, flexible time off policies, and strong parental leave programs.

 

 

Brian Oppenheim
Engineering Director • Celonis

Celonis offers process mining technology that helps visualize, analyze, and improve company processes.

 

What is your companys mission? What problem are you solving in bigger and better ways?

Celonis is on a mission to help reduce waste in business processes. This frees up valuable resources for our clients to double down on the things that make their businesses unique. 

Celonis is the market leader in process mining and offers a unique combination of technology, specific process knowledge, and automation. This lets us help in gathering data, analyzing the data, deciding what to do and executing process improvements.

Within Celonis, my team is part of a group that is focused on accelerating “time to value,” the time that elapses between when a customer signs up and sees demonstrable benefits from the product. 

My immediate team owns a Celonis tool called Business Miner. It provides a question-and-answer-based flow for getting quick insights into your process without having to set up dashboards or custom apps. This allows customers to get key insights about the processes more quickly, giving them more direction on how to use the rest of what Celonis has to offer.

 

How does your mission help you and/or the business stay on track? 

Like any B2B company, time to value is a critical success metric for Celonis. Reducing this time delights users and makes them more likely to remain customers.  

A typical customer starting with Celonis is excited about getting into the product and learning more about their own business. But that excitement can be quickly lost if they don’t get those insights quickly. Our product group helps them quickly get data exported from their system into Celonis and gets them right into the question and answer flow to start learning about their processes.  

This happens in parallel to their IT department working to connect their running systems to Celonis and building out custom dashboards in Celonis. In terms of time to value, this makes Celonis valuable to business analysts as quickly as they can download a CSV from their tooling and upload it to Celonis without waiting on other departments or more time consuming setup steps.

 

Celonis
Celonis

 

How can jobseekers cut through the fluff to determine whether a company has a mission worth supporting?

It takes some critical thinking. Read everything you can about the company. What do they say they do? What do others say about them? 

Take some time to challenge it in your head by trying some thought experiments. What would be a likely outcome to an industry or broader society if they were successful? Are there people that can really benefit from the product they are building? How is their approach unique? What things out of their control could cause big problems?

Keeping these thoughts in mind, engage with the company. Having thought through their problem space you’ll likely have some questions. How do they answer those questions? How clearly are they able to articulate what they’re working on? The more specific and easy to understand the answer, the likelier they have thought through their problem space well.

 

“How clearly are they able to articulate what they’re working on? The more specific and easy to understand the answer, the likelier they have thought through their problem space well.”

 

My final piece of advice is to remember that “seeing is believing.” I find it important to watch product demos and actually use the product. For an early stage company, look at mocks.

 

 

Laura Bainbridge
SVP of Corporate Communications & Investor Relations • Trupanion

Trupanion operates as a direct-to-consumer monthly subscription service provider. It provides medical insurance plans for cats and dogs throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. 

 

What is your companys mission? What problem are you solving in bigger and better ways?

Trupanion’s mission is to help loving, responsible pet owners budget and care for their pet. In the hearts of our team members, it's about helping our pets live longer, healthier, happier lives.  

At the end of the day, people who work at Trupanion see their pets as family members, and we want as much time with them as possible. With Trupanion, our product ensures that if a pet becomes ill or is injured, they get the veterinary care that they need and their pet parent doesn't have to worry about the cost. 

It guides everything that we do, and this is important because an unexpected trip to the veterinarian can be very costly, and if unprepared, pet parents have to make some really difficult decisions about the health and life of their pet. 

Over the last 20 years, we helped more than 3 million pets get the veterinary care they deserve. In fact, at Trupanion, we’ve paid out more than $2 billion in veterinary invoices on behalf of our members. We celebrate helping pets and literally ring a bell to celebrate these milestones because they matter to us.

 

“We celebrate helping pets and literally ring a bell to celebrate these milestones because they matter to us.”

 

How does your mission help you and/or the business stay on track? 

Every member of our team is extremely pet-passionate, and many of us come from the veterinary community. In fact, we have dozens of vets and hundreds of veterinary technicians, nurses and assistants on staff. 

For this reason, everyone is all too aware of the problem we’re trying to solve. We’ve seen pet parents have to make really heartbreaking decisions, and veterinarians have had to stop treatment on pets that they could have otherwise saved. 

We were finding that even when some pet parents had insurance, they couldn’t afford to pay their invoices up front and wait for reimbursement. So, we decided to expand our focus to removing barriers to care and partnering with veterinarians to pay veterinary invoices directly at the time the pet owner is checking out. 

This means that pet parents can say yes to the recommended course of treatment more often and take care of their pet the way they would take care of any member of their family. This singular focus on the pets we all love is what helps us stay on track and have that north star. This isn’t always easy to do. We’re in a growing industry, so a lot of what we are trying to do is virtually unexplored territory.

 

Trupanion
Trupanion

 

How can jobseekers cut through the fluff to determine whether a company has a mission worth supporting?

Most importantly, it needs to be personal. If it doesn’t matter to you, then it won’t keep you invested or engaged in the long run. At Trupanion, we are truly pet-passionate and this is apparent throughout the team.

Have conversations. Lots of them. Ask what brings them to work every day and if it ties back to the mission? I also recommend looking at the company’s benefits, and how the mission comes to life for team members. 

At Trupanion, our benefits are built for those who are pet-passionate; these include complimentary pet health coverage for a pet, pet bereavement, a dog-friendly office, dog playrooms and dog walkers to keep pets happy throughout the day. The connection to the mission was tangible through these benefits, and I think this is a great way to evaluate whether a company aligns with you. 

I’d also recommend taking a look at the company’s efforts around corporate social responsibility, which can be a great opportunity to understand how that mission translates not only to its team members, but also to its partners, the communities in which it operates and the broader environment. These are great ways to evaluate how a company lives up to its values.

 

 

Justin Jensen
Director of Engineering Gateway • RapidDeploy

RapidDeploy is an innovative cloud-based call-taking and Computer-Aided Dispatch platform serving public safety and other markets. Designed by first responders from varied disciplines, RapidDeploy uses leading technologies to solve the key challenges faced by emergency services providers. 

 

What is your companys mission? What problem are you solving in bigger and better ways?

RapidDeploy’s mission is to save lives by reducing response times. I’ve been with RapidDeploy for 6 years, and this mission has always a clear and consistent mantra. We are solving the problem of 911 needing to be more agile and interconnected with the modern world by changing the way in which technology is delivered for 911. 

Our cloud-based platform delivers continuously evolving and up-to-date software tools and provides all our customers the same access to our partner integrations. Our IoT platform provides a frictionless integration solution for PSAPs and our new mobile platform will make our tools available anywhere in the field.

 

How does your mission help you and/or the business stay on track? 

Because saving lives is our entire mission, it keeps us on track each day to focus on achieving that outcome. We don't hear them every day, but we all look forward to “save stories,” situations in which our technology made the difference in someone’s life being saved or taken out of a dangerous situation. It helps keep us motivated to deliver our best work, because at some point someone’s life might depend on it.

 

“We don’t hear them every day, but we all look forward to 'save stories,' situations in which our technology made the difference in someone's life being saved or taken out of a dangerous situation.”

 

How can jobseekers cut through the fluff to determine whether a company has a mission worth supporting?

I think jobseekers should examine a company’s mission statement for action and purpose. Is there a clear end result or is the company's mission to just "do a thing?”

 

 

Conner True
Senior Biomedical Solutions Specialist • Level Ex

Level Ex is bringing state-of-the-art visual effects and engagement philosophies from the video game industry into the field of medicine. The company unites experts in game development with top physicians and surgeons, creating ultra-realistic, virtual surgery mobile apps that allow physicians to master minimally invasive procedures in their specialty. 

 

What is your companys mission? What problem are you solving in bigger and better ways?

Our mission at Level Ex is to advance the practice of medicine through the power of play. Utilizing the advantages of connecting the neuroscience of play with learning shows incredible potential to advance the ability to interact and learn with new information. 

This connection of learning and play provides an opportunity that allows individuals to engage with information, test their knowledge and experience an interactive engagement with the information they are trying to learn. Furthermore, this interaction increases neuroplasticity and provides the user with a way to mentally recall important information that is an individual experience as opposed to a continuous stream of passive learning objectives.

 

How does your mission help you and/or the business stay on track? 

This mission serves as  a pinnacle for enhancing our company’s camaraderie and provides us with a shared goal that yields positive outcomes to strive towards The ability to advance the practice of medicine through the power of play, and the opportunity to watch it take effect in real time is not only incredibly valuable but incredibly rewarding for all of our teams. 

 

“The ability to advance the practice of medicine through the power of play, and the opportunity to watch it take effect in real time is not only incredibly valuable but incredibly rewarding for all of our teams.”

 

Each individual plays a vital role in developing the project. Having a shared mission keeps everyone on track moving forward, with the knowledge they are building something that will ultimately lead to better patient care across the entire medical system.

 

How can jobseekers cut through the fluff to determine whether a company has a mission worth supporting?

Dig deep not only into their mission, but investigate the product and how connected the mission and the product lineup are. A company with a mission that is felt by all employees will ultimately be seen in the product that is delivered. 

With every important member working towards a shared goal, the deliverable shares that same goal. A company with a congruent mission will be able to deliver a product that showcases what they are striving for.

 

 

David Boffa
Senior Vice President, Commercial Sales • Rapid7

Rapid7 engages in the business of security risk intelligence. It primarily provides security data and analytics solutions, specializing in Threat Exposure Management, Incident Detection and Response, and Security Advisory Services. 

 

What is your companys mission? What problem are you solving in bigger and better ways?

At Rapid7, we are on a mission to create a secure digital world for our customers, our industry and our communities.

Our focus is helping organizations strengthen their security programs in the face of accelerating digital transformation. Our portfolio of solutions empowers security professionals to manage risk and eliminate threats across the entire threat landscape, from apps to the cloud to traditional infrastructure to the dark web. 

We use insights from open source communities and our expert research to arm the global security community with the latest in attackers methods.

 

How does your mission help you and/or the business stay on track? 

Our mission keeps us on track by giving teams across the organization a clear set of goals and priorities. For example, our research, development, advisory and threat intel teams are able to detect some of the most sophisticated attacks in cybersecurity. Being aligned in our mission helps these teams work closely with our engineers and our customer community to give them the most up to date information and create the solutions they need to stay secure. 

 

“Being aligned in our mission helps these teams work closely with our engineers and our customer community to give them the most up to date information and create the solutions they need to stay secure.”

 

This collaboration and partnership is the reason why our customers grow to rely on and trust us, driving positive results for the business while providing continued opportunities for growth to our employees. 

Working towards the goal of a more secure digital future in a world where hackers and threats are constantly moving targets, and being given resources and support to go execute this goal, creates an energy and excitement that is truly contagious.

 

How can jobseekers cut through the fluff to determine whether a company has a mission worth supporting?

I would recommend candidates ask their interviewer or hiring manager “what gets you excited about coming into work every day?” If the answer is the paycheck, you have a clear answer there. If they are able to articulate how their work or their team contributes to the mission, and it’s something that they can get excited about, that's a much more promising sign. 

Another good way to uncover a company’s mission is to find out their “why.” What problem are they solving, and why are they in business in the first place? 

Finally, I’d encourage candidates to ask how many of the company’s customers are repeat buyers. With this question you can start to uncover how their value is perceived. A larger number of repeat buyers can also indicate the company has a deeper commitment to their mission versus just trying to sell a widget or special feature.

 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by Shutterstock and listed companies.

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Monte Carlo
Big Data • Cloud • Software • Generative AI • Big Data Analytics
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