This is a session at Innov8rs Austin, 4-5 December 2019

All speakers and sessions here:

The Exploitation of “Purpose”: Companies are “woke-washing” Has ‘doing good’ become appropriated for the wrong intent?

The concept of “purpose” has become something of a cliché—a fashion accessory in the world of business. Corporate leaders preach about it, employees desperately crave it and consumers are buying into it more and more. But is it even possible for a company to have a conscience? To have a moral compass or reason for being that is bigger than profit? Has purpose started to be appropriated for the wrong intent?

And what about us? In our day to day work, are we thinking about “purpose” in the right way?

In this talk, Alain Sylvain, Founder & CEO of Sylvain Labs, will answer these questions using contemporary examples, history and pop culture. He’ll draw from his journey as a founder, his company’s recent experience in joining the ranks of leading Certified B Corporations, and his work with various clients. Finally, Alain will argue that while the need for business with purpose is at an all-time high, many companies today are still exploiting it to drive their own agendas, but there is a way to inspire real commitment.

Alain Sylvain

Founder and CEO at Sylvain Labs

Alain is the founder and CEO of Sylvain Labs, a strategy and design consultancy that helps companies seize the reality and potential of their business, products and brands. Clients include Google, American Express, Airbnb, Spotify, Blackrock, Samsung, Pepsico, AB InBev, Jet, IKEA, GM, Sonos, the NBA, and others. Founded in 2010, the company is headquartered in NYC, with offices in Amsterdam and Richmond, VA, and is a Certified B-Corporation.

In addition to Sylvain Labs, Alain is a partner and investor in several ventures, including Master + Dynamic, a design-driven, premium audio brand, So Choice Softworks, a mobile gaming company, Lilo, an açai bowl company, and PetMio, a smart pet food startup. In addition, he has served as executive producer on short documentaries, including Some Kind of Quest, a profile of one very unique individual and his journey to keep a dream on track, and Instafame, an exploration into the psychological impact of digital fame on young people.

Prior to founding Sylvain Labs, Alain was managing director at Redscout and a lead strategist at Mother New York. He also held positions at The Martin Agency, Publicis and SS+K. He frequently shares his perspective on innovation and culture as a contributor for Quartz, and has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, The New York Times, Monocle, Inc. Magazine, Business Insider, AdAge, Paper Magazine and others. He is also a current board member of Plus Pool and the VCU Brandcenter. Additionally, Alain is an active contributor to various non-profit initiatives around the world.

Alain attended Columbia University’s SIPA and Columbia Business School, as well as Vassar College.