BrewDog has made a name for itself over recent years, with rapid growth (and fine beer) allied to a strong and unambiguous commitment to a values-driven agenda. As their website confidently proclaims: "Most companies are scared to take a stand for the things they believe in. WE. ARE. NOT. SCARED."

Not scared, perhaps, but possibly scarred by the recent accusations from former members of staff in a recently published letter. The letter pulls no punches; the co-founder of BrewDog, James Watt, has been conciliatory in his public response.

I am in no position to comment either way on the claims which have been made about the culture within BrewDog. What this sad situation does illustrate, however, is that the journey of being a business with a social purpose is not always a straightforward one.

If the main focus of a business is to be as profitable as possible (and the business is honest and upfront about this) then at least everyone knows where they are, and everyone - both internally and externally - will be able to see, to a large extent, whether or not that aspiration is successful. Businesses have to report financially in far more detail than they do about anything else, so that potential investors, clients and customers can draw their own conclusions. 

Staff may expect to be well paid for their work, but they won't necessarily expect to receive outstanding employment practice or the best working conditions, because they understand that this is not the focus. If you know that it's all about the bottom line, then you should know what to expect.

By contrast, if you claim to be a business with a broader social purpose (like the one I work for, and many others) people will hold you to a higher standard. Some of the strength of feeling in the BrewDog letter is about the fact that the business was seen to be saying one thing, whilst doing another.

We have experienced this in our own journey as a purpose-driven law firm.  People expect more and better from us. In that sense, they're right; the values that we articulate should run through all that we do, like lettering through a stick of rock. If they don't then our colleagues or clients are right to call us out on it.

But mission-led businesses are not perfect; they are full of people - amazing, talented, flawed people, who will have their particular gifts and skills, and weaknesses and faults. We will make mistakes, partly because there is no single blueprint for being a values-led enterprise. We are all blazing a series of trails; we will mess things up and take wrong turns. And when we do, we have to learn, we have to act, we have to take it on the chin. But we should take comfort and encouragement that there are others on the same journey; and just because the journey is hard, it does not mean we should give up. The real test is what happens next.