The story goes back a long time and I owe it to my son Léo.
Back then I was working full time (and often “over time”) in a large corporation. The feeling of “wasting my time” (and missing out on precious moments with my son – such as his first steps) became increasingly strong, due to many reasons but in particular I felt increasingly uncomfortable working for a company whose major purpose was to hit quarterly results and perform towards shareholders – and for who I was only a (disposable) number.
Léo and I in September 2010
This feeling became worse when my daughter was born. At that time, work was continuously increasing with ambitious targets and costs cuts going hand in hand. I managed the balancing act thanks to great colleagues and a great empathic boss – until the fragile support system crumbled and a severe burn out forced me to stop.
Resilience and purpose
As I started to heal, new possibilities started to emerge. I realized I wanted to make an impact in this world for the sake of my children: not only in my personal choices as a “consumer” and citizen, but also as a professional, in my career. I chose to pursue my career in Sustainability to contribute to a sustainable development:
“Sustainability is a development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Brundtland report (Our Common Future)
I wanted to make sure I had done all I could to contribute to a livable future for my children at 360°: both in my personal choices as well as in my professional life.
So I embarked on a journey discovering and appropriating myself of business sustainability ( business as a force for good) and started expanding my comfort zone as a freelance consultant and entrepreneur – and have continued since.
I did many ventures: I co-founded a sustainability professional network, co-founded a circular economy start up and jungled to find a new balance at home with the kids and my new type of working as an entrepreneur.
Eventually thanks to help from a coach, I realized I wanted to help not only companies to become more sustainable but especially help their employees regain a sense of purpose in their jobs. AND avoid them going through what happened to me in the first place.
By taking action “for good” at work (i.e. having a positive social and environmental impact) brings tremendous benefits to the company, employees (read more here) AND adds purpose to their daily life at work.
This helps society but especially it helps to prevent psychosocial risks such as burn out, depression and high staff turnover. Moreover engaging in positive societal activities is something young employees are looking for. So it’s a way to engage younger generations (millennials and gen z), too.
Eventually, the idea of teams 4 purpose emerged, combining my experience as a former corporate employee, consultant and entrepreneur. Teams4purpose combines both “business for good” action and (re)gaining purpose in your job. It’s something I wish had existed 5 years earlier when I was still a corporate employee.
Stepping up on my purpose
My vision with teams4purpose is to instill the “sustainability mindset” in people’s professional lives. Very often employees want to take action for sustainability but don’t know how.
Today I empower people to see the possibilities and start taking action in their jobs, with little steps at a time – leading to big steps and change over time. My new company logo represents exactly that:
- A team embracing sustainability, symbolizing collaboration, coming together for a purpose.
- The person in green empowers the group and inspires others to do the same and lead change within their organization.
- The round shape and green and blue colors are an allegory of planet Earth.
“Today I make great choices because they are made with full awareness.“ Deepak Chopra
I do not regret the choices I made in the last 5 years since I left the corporate world and feel so blessed to have the opportunity to expand my comfort zone every day and live my mission fully as an entrepreneur.
If you feel your professional life lacks meaning and is not aligned with your values, what choices and actions are you taking to change that?
Written by Marena Eirich, CSR consultant and lecturer, founder of teams4purpose.
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sustainability – purpose – burnout – collaboration – business force for good – engagement