Conversations with Purpose

Two people seated at a table in conversation

Conversations with Purpose

An initiative to get the world talking through #ConversationsWithPurpose

What are conversations with purpose?

Conversations can strengthen relationships, foster understanding and build bridges… at least, they can when we do them well.

Many of the everyday conversations we have are outcome-driven – they’re about arriving at clear, quantifiable outcomes. However, purpose-driven conversations are different – the motivation to have these conversations stems from issues which are much bigger. Success is not based on how easily we can find neat resolutions, but to what extent we can build bridges and create common ground.

If we are going to heal some of the divisions that have formed in the world today, we need to get better at having these 'conversations with purpose'.

That's why this new initiative by Common Purpose aims to support leaders and organizations to have more effective, purpose-driven conversations about real, complex issues that affect us all.

    Examples of purpose-driven conversations


    Identity (for example: race, sexuality or gender)

    Social justice and equality

    Personal rights


    Public health & safety

    The environment


    Our research

    For over 30 years, Common Purpose programmes have provided a rare, neutral space for people from many different backgrounds to come together and have conversations about the big issues facing leaders and society. However, over recent years, as the world seems to become more and more polarized we’ve seen a huge increase in the need for these types of conversations.

    That's why, in 2020, we conducted our own research into purpose-driven conversations which drew on the insights and experiences of leaders around the world. We wanted to gain a better understanding of what actually happens when people are presented with these types of conversations, and what factors affect their approach.

    Solutions for organizations

    Even though purpose-driven conversations are becoming a regular feature within organizations, many organizations do not feel fully prepared to hold these conversations effectively. Sometimes they emerge as a result of internal initiatives; sometimes they emerge as a result of world events and social movements like Black Lives Matter or #MeToo. In any case, organizations and their leaders must be ready to have these conversations – and to have them well.

    That's why – drawing on our research and the input of a global community of senior HR professionals – we have developed a new model that better prepares leaders to start and sustain conversations with purpose. Download our brochure to learn more about our model, and to find out how we can support your organization to have more effective conversations with purpose.

    Share our initiative

    Conversations with Purpose is more than just a research project.
    While we want to better understand what happens when people engage in difficult, purpose-driven conversations, we also want to find practical, scalable ways to support people to have better, more effective conversations – in their teams, organizations, communities and personal lives.
    In many societies, we are becoming more and more polarized, and we can only begin to bridge the gaps if we are able to sustain purpose-driven conversations. So, in a way, Conversations with Purpose is really an invitation. An invitation to you – to everyone – to get involved with this work. Share our research with colleagues, friends or family, and help us get the world talking.