First Ever ‘Corporate Purpose Monitor’ Launches in Southeast Asia


Member-driven think tank, The Conference Board Asia, has launched the research programme and public engagement component of its flagship Asia Corporate Leadership Council. The Council is a strategic, CEO-level programme designed to establish and promote best practices on corporate purpose in Asia.

The Council’s debut research project is the Asia Corporate Purpose Monitor (ACPM), which provides a revealing look at corporate purpose-related communications around the region. The research encompassed 11 markets via a sample of 235 local companies and 50 MNCs active in the region. It was developed in partnership with mission-based technology firm, Quilt.AI.

The data-driven report provides extensive insights and observations for C-suite executives and others with a focus on business strategy and communications. Based on the study, key insights for what’s ahead include:

  • Given the urgency of sustainability/ESG issues in the region, corporate purpose-related communications are arguably lower than they should be. Companies have a big opportunity to raise awareness.
    • Most companies communicate on purpose-related topics infrequently. On average, purpose-related social media communications comprised just 17% of total social media communications volume over the 12-month period.
  • When companies communicate on corporate purpose-related topics, and the good sustainability/ESG conduct it presumably advocates, the public pays attention. This spells opportunity for those with credible messages to share.
    • Purpose-related company communications were just 17% of total corporate communications and captured only 20% of public engagement.
  • Climate change is becoming a mainstream corporate communications topic. And yet, many companies for which carbon is a material issue do not communicate about it. Moreover, citizens, as evidenced by online search volumes, clearly have strong interest in the topic. This is an issue in which companies need to get in front.
    • 44% used their social media channels to communicate at least once over the past year on GHG Emissions, and 32% communicated on Biodiversity. However, only 7% communicated on Water Use. Public engagement on climate-related corporate communications is low across the board, even though online search volume data for the region indicates that climate change is of very high public interest in the region.

The research comes at a time when advancing corporate purpose – the act of pursuing profitable business of benefit to people and the planet, and delivering sustainable value creation for all of a company’s stakeholders – is now the key strategic priority for many C-suites. Corporate communications, especially via social media channels, is an important component of any credible corporate purpose agenda.

“The ACPM is designed to illuminate corporate and public discourse trends in Asia on corporate purpose-related topics and answer critically important questions that help advance corporate purpose excellence in the region,” said The Conference Board Senior Vice President for AsiaDavid Hoffman. “Given the urgency of sustainability and ESG issues in the region, corporate purpose-related communications are arguably lower than they should be. While more isn’t always better, the data clearly show that companies have much room to increase corporate purpose-related communications, assuming they have something credible to say.”

The ACPM attempts to measure the different facets of corporate purpose-related social media communications in Southeast Asia across 46 corporate purpose-related topics, analysing over 61,000 unique data points gathered between August 2020 and July 2021,” said Quilt.AI CEO & Co-founder, Anurag Banerjee. “To ensure a comprehensive study, we looked at three data streams: what companies are communicating on social media, how the public is engaging with companies on these communications, and general online searches.”

“We live in a digital-first world, so the significance of such reports means we’re able to address key areas of improvement and move quickly,” said, Gautam Banerjee, Chairman, Blackstone Singapore, and Advisory Board Chair of The Conference Board Asia. “This report proves that companies should have credible corporate purpose agendas, programmes, and achievements on which to communicate. If they don’t, they had better get started.”

“The Asia Corporate Purpose Monitor provides organisations with data-driven insights on how to better communicate not just with their customers, but with all their stakeholders,” said Dr Beh Swan Gin, Chairman of the EDB and Advisory Board Member of The Conference Board Asia. “Large established companies must take the lead to stimulate more discourse on the importance of corporate purpose and bring small-to medium-sized companies in their respective economies, along the corporate purpose journey. For Singapore, the initiative to Emerge Stronger from COVID-19 and our Green Plan 2030, are great opportunities to generate this momentum.”