Purpose Driven

By April Willoughby | Jul 15, 2013 ShareShare

I once heard that every company has a culture – it’s just that some know what it is and some don’t. I learned firsthand that a company’s purpose isn’t what a leader or committee wants it to be, but what already exists among the people and culture of the organization.

Many years ago, I wanted to better understand what our people most enjoyed about their work, what inspired the passion and drive they continually exhibited. So I asked. And the consistent answer that came back was that the things XL built mattered – we were building things that improved lives; medical centers, biopharmaceutical labs and plants, facilities that develop technological innovations, schools that inspire kids and teachers alike. And we were doing it sustainably, preserving natural resources and limiting the negative effects of the built environment on the world. This larger “purpose” was what kept our people excited and what made them feel good about their work.

We had been doing this type of work since our founding in 1992, and it had always been a driving factor for our business, though we had never codified it as our reason for being. But clearly it was. People worked at XL because we were doing something bigger than building a building; we were building better working environments, better communities, even a better world.

With this knowledge in hand, we formalized our purpose – we build to improve lives. And believing that people are more inspired and more passionate when driven by a common purpose, we put this core belief at the core of our business.

Since then, this purpose has influenced more and more of our business. Today, it drives everything we do, the projects we pursue, the way we treat our people, and the way we approach partnership and client care.

And our employees have responded. They have built an atmosphere of camaraderie at the office and on the jobsites. They focus on creating great working environments for our partners on the job, and for delivering the best in client care. They strive to be great partners, not just great builders. They truly do build to improve lives.

In April, we got the chance to celebrate one of the effects of being a purpose-driven organization. The San Francisco Business Times/Silicon Valley Business Journal ranked XL as the #1 Best Place to Work in the Bay Area. Given all the phenomenal companies here, and the employee-survey driven nature of the list, it’s an amazing honor and an awesome achievement. It validates for us that we are living by our purpose, and we look forward to where it takes us next.


Tags: culture | people | best places to work


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