“Most people come to their organizations with a desire to do something meaningful, to contribute and serve. Everybody needs, as philosopher and management scholar Charles Handy says, ‘an inner belief that you are in some sense meant to be here, that you can leave the world a little different in a small way.’”
Leadership and the New Science, Margaret Wheatley
Mike McMeekin & Kyle Davy
Research consistently demonstrates the correlation between purpose and employee engagement. Alignment between personal and organizational values can result in more effective organizational performance and drive long-term success. Evidence is also emerging that society expects businesses to look beyond their own self-interest. According to the 2021 Purpose Premium Index from global public relations firm Porter Novelli, “75% of Americans say it is no longer acceptable for companies just to make money; they must positively impact society too.”
There is, then, value for organizations to invest in defining their purpose and even greater value to society when that purpose becomes a “noble purpose” that incorporates environmental and social values. A “noble purpose” unites, energizes, motivates people within and across organizations, and fulfills their desires for meaning and contribution in their work lives. It quickly and clearly communicates how individuals and organizations can contribute to a cause that benefits society in a meaningful way.
ECL-USA’s work has confirmed that this need for purpose strongly exists within the Engineering Community. Research conducted for our Summit 12 revealed that “Making the World a Better Place and Positively Contributing to Communities” is a primary core value and driver of engagement for the Engineering Community workforce (https://ecl-usa.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Summit-12-Report.pdf).
ECL-USA Summit 11, The Imperative of Climate Change and the Future of Engineering, featured a deep dive into how engineering and the engineering community might be transformed by the way it responds to the emerging risks of climate change. In the final exercise of the summit, participants reflected on the potential emergence of a “noble purpose” for the Engineering Community centered on the climate change imperative. Summit participants committed to exploring the potential of drafting such a statement.
A final version of the ECL-USA Climate Change Noble Purpose for Engineering Statement is now complete. This statement was prepared with input from a working group of 25 that included representatives from 16 engineering organizations and participants in the ECL-USA Climate Change Summit.
Why is this Noble Purpose Statement important to the future of engineering? Here are several reasons.
- The statement confirms the multiple, critical roles that the Engineering Community must play in both reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to a changing climate.
- Although “good work” related to climate change is occurring across the Engineering Community, the statement offers a cross-sector, cross-disciplinary vision that can guide this good work.
- The statement provides an overall vision that members of the Engineering Community can build on within their own organizations.
- The statement sends a message to young people that the Engineering Community offers multiple careers and leadership roles that they can take on to address this grand challenge and provide great benefit to society.
- The statement offers the opportunity to highlight a network of committed supporters who are seeking to create change within their own organizations to place greater emphasis on addressing climate change.
- The statement can be a catalyst in creating a movement within the Engineering Community to elevate its contributions on behalf of society.
You can view our Climate Change Noble Purpose Statement for the Engineering Community at the link below. This page also provides the opportunity for both individuals and organizations to sign up as supporters of the statement. If you agree that the Engineering Community should recognize the imperative of climate change and should play a leadership role in helping society address this challenge, we ask you to join those who have already indicated their support and sign up.
You can also download a copy of the statement at this link (https://ecl-usa.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Climate-Change-Noble-Purpose-Statement.pdf).
ECL-USA will continue to look for meaningful next steps in catalyzing further action by the Engineering Community in addressing climate change. Our goal is that this statement will impact the way the engineering community does its work, with a greater emphasis on addressing climate change, both through reducing emissions and adaptation to our changing climate.