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Does Your CEO Know What Your HSEQ Purpose Is?
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Does Your CEO Know What Your HSEQ Purpose Is?

  • Publish Date: Posted about 1 year ago

“Without a sense of purpose, no public or private company can achieve its full potential.”

Larry Fink, CEO, BlackRock Inc.


One of the common challenges we hear at Shirley Parsons is that CEOs and managers fail to value HSEQ in their organisations. We have often heard it described as an ‘uphill battle’ to get appropriate funding, staff, resources etc in order to implement effective HSEQ within a business.



At the Beyond HSEQ eventl ast year, the sector was described as ‘the conscience of a business’. This was expanded by other attendees to be the role that ‘enabled other people to be the conscience of the businesses.

The members, representing 61 organisations from HSEQ, said that you are there to influence, lead, challenge, enable, empower, protect and simplify; HSEQ directors need to be direct about their role and be able to define their own purpose.


Defining your purpose

Being aware of your role and purpose is vital. Being confident in yourself and your beliefs will help get your vision and authority across.

Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek’s model for inspirational leadership is the ‘Golden Circle’. The Golden Circle visualises the structure of an organisation and incorporates three rings; the centre is the WHY, the next ring is the HOW, and the largest ring on the outside is the WHAT. He says that when making decisions or communicating, you begin at the centre with WHY and then work your way out.

He defines your why as ‘the compelling higher purpose that inspires us and acts as the source of all we do’.

Using steps to define your why, he suggests writing down answers to the following questions:

●     When are you at your best?

●     When are you at your worst?

●     What are you passionate about?

●     When do you feel most energised?

●     What is the core purpose of your role?

●     Why does it matter?

Sinek then recommends looking over your answers and seeing if any key themes emerge. Are there any words you feel drawn to? If so, these are the words you should include in your answer to ‘why’ as they will be the most motivational.

Then you can write your ‘why statement.’ Making it simple, short and easy to understand, he recognises there may be an overlap between your personal and professional why; however, this is how he should be.

He then concludes by saying that when your ‘why statement’ is constructed – it can help guide future career decisions, conversations at work and direction in life.

Watch Simon’s TED Talk on the subject.


Involving your CEO: ‘why and why not?’

Defining ‘why’ and looking at purpose was one of the subjects discussed at the Beyond HSEQ event we hosted with Arup alongside The Speakers’ Gym. During the day, one suggestion was to run a session on ‘purpose’ and how to create a ‘why statement’ with a CEO involved or at least present.

The members decided there wasn’t a better way to show your worth to your CEO / manager than them knowing what your purpose is and understanding why it is your purpose.

After the Beyond event, Sunit Atwal, HSEQ manager at CBRE, put the tool to practice and hosted a workshop with her wider team, President and CEO:

“As QHSE professionals we often talk about building inclusive environments that drive operational excellence, but how often do we invite our operational leaders to help define our strategy? However, we did it! What an energising QHSE strategy day exploring our purpose with our President and CEO. Just one of the many reasons why I absolutely love working for CBRE!”


The impact of purpose

The Speakers’ Gym describes the impact of purpose and say: 72% of people say purpose gives employees a far greater sense of fulfilment and so is a keyway to improving employee engagement. They also say that companies with higher employee engagement are up to 22% more profitable, and engaged workplaces have 67% lower staff turnover.

Their three tips on creating a purpose to have an effective impact are:

1. Narrow down your terms to frame the work

Be specific and ensure everyone understands those terms fully whilst making it as simple as possible.


2. Start locally

First apply the work on purpose to you. Get your team to do the same individual work on purpose and support them in any way they need. Then, invite your team to look at your shared purpose.


3. Allow it to be broken

Empower your team to be involved with making it and take ownership. As a leader, if you’ve done some work to articulate a shared purpose for your team, you must test it and allow it to be broken by the people that it’s for.


Is purpose pointless?

In conclusion, they say: “when it’s approached in the right way for the right reasons, purpose has the power to unlock your potential, transform business culture and accelerate the right kind of growth”. This ties in with Sinek’s Golden Circle and the belief that your ‘why statement’ can help guide future career decisions, conversations at work and direction in life.

This years’ theme will focus on communication and addressing how the industry addresses its audience.

If you’d like to find out more about Beyond HSEQ or to register your interest in our next event on Thursday 4th May, contact us below.