The 4 Ps of Purpose-Driven Work: Part 2 (Place)

by Richenda Vermeulen
October 18, 2021

Whose land do you stand on? What resources are you taking from it?

We’ve been taking a look at purpose at work and in this post, we’ll coverPlace. This series aims to provide you questions to ask yourself or your leaders at work.

Honestly, this is complicated.

Of the four Ps, Place is the hardest to get right. After all, we’re standing on unceded land, using tools that cost the earth to give. There are people and stories tied to this place, many of which we’ll never know.

Let’s start with the obvious: environmental impact. For most organisations I know, this is becoming an important discussion at every level, from the call centre to the boardroom.

Are you actively working to reduce your environmental impact acrossallbusiness functions?

At ntegrity, we are pursuing an environmentally responsible mindset across our entire company, including small decisions like,how can we ensure we recycle even though our local council does not provide us easy to access recycle facilities?That means working with our cleaners to make sure they can access a recycling depot – and paying them more to do so.

But this also includes the macro decisions. 2021 is the first year our company will be carbon neutral. It’s a no-brainer, and honestly we should have done it years ago. You, like us, might not have realised how achievable it is, and I encourage you to look into it through organisations likeGreenfleet.

There are other challenges to cultivating an environmentally responsible mindset. As we return to hybrid working and need to update our office, we’re asking questions like,is there an option to buy second-hand or recycled furniture?That’s something we have to weighed against the time it will take to procure this and how practical it will be for our staff. It may not be the easiest option, but it’s worth considering if we are committed to reducing our environmental impact.

We’ve also recently been challenged to look at our vendors and their supply chains and ask hard questions about the environmental impacts. Our friends at Greenfleet have encouraged us to think more broadly and become a conduit for change in how we partner with others. We are just starting on this journey, we won’t nail it the first time. But we’re committed to giving it a crack.

Do you acknowledge the traditional owners of the land you are on?

For most of our lives Australians (myself included) were ignorant of the injustices inflicted on Indigenous Peoples. The experience of First Nations people was not part of our curriculum in school. Not until recently did it become a hot political topic to be taken seriously.

ntegrity has had the privilege of working with Australians Together for the past seven years. Their mission is to change the curriculum in Australian schools so we can all better understand our shared history.

One of the things we have learnt from them is how important it is to know the land on which you stand and its story. For instance, as I type I stand on land that is owned by Yaluk-ut Weelam Clan of the Boon Wurrung.

Our office is on the land of the Wurungeri people of the Kulin Nation.

A first step is knowing the name of the land you occupy. Acknowledge it at important meetings. Even virtual meetings. Some of our team include it in their Zoom profile names.

But a far more important step is to understand the story behind the original name. At key meetings like our quarterly strategy days, acknowledgment of country has morphed from saying a name to sharing stories of what we understand about the land and its first inhabitants. When I share about the Yaluk-ut Weelam, I share that they were known as “The river people”, that there are multiple spellings of ‘Yalukut Willam’ due to the contemporary evolution of the Boon Wurrung language. But also,that women and children were kidnapped from Port Phillip by sealerswho removed them to islands in Bass Strait for slave labour on sealing stations.

Why is knowing these stories important? Because it honours the history and heritage of First Nations people. But it also cultivates empathy and understanding.

For example, it has helped me to have a greater appreciation for why celebrating Australia Day is painful to so many – because while to some of us it’s a celebration of all things Australia, to many First Nations people it is celebrating a massacre.

We talk about this openly at work. We give our staff the option to work on Australia Day and swap the public holiday for another.I have chosen to work on this day for the past 4 yearsand talked about it publicly. I’vespoken to the mediaabout the need to rethink marketing on this day.

Like everything else, we have explored this as a team. Our staff created artwork for our office to acknowledge its traditional owners. Wemade a playlistto play in the office while working on Australia Day. We’ve completed workshops with Australians Together, to better understand the culture we live in, and what it may feel like when your land, people and culture are taken from you.

We are still on our journey of understanding. We have a long way to go in doing better for the planet and for First Nations people. It can be challenging when you’re a small, budget-conscious, and time-poor organisation. But we do our best – and sometimes we do things that make us really proud (I still listen to that playlist!)

I encourage you to start this journey too – and to stay curious. I highly recommend starting usingthis 1-hour training videofrom Australians Together exploring culture.

Every step you take toward a greater appreciation of Place (and care for it) matters.