Why purposeful work matters – a call to action

Chris Dodds explores the importance of purposeful work and why working for a purpose has become a necessity to him, not only from a reputational perspective but to fit his organisation’s ethical beliefs.

We all have a degree of agency in our lives. Every morning we wake and decide what we’re going to do with our day. We’re free to choose who we work for, the types of services or projects we help deliver, and if we’re going to be comfortable with the outcome.

Choice is empowering, but it also comes with enormous responsibility.

Aristotle urged us to ask: “What type of person should I be?”

His ethical system encouraged us to seek a balance between the vices of excess and deficiency. To be courageous but not reckless; to be charitable; to enjoy life but not drift into vulgarity or overconsumption; to be proud but self-effacing; to express honesty with tactfulness; to admit error and not fear shame; and most importantly to seek the “golden mean” or the middle ground.

To find this middle ground, we need to observe, listen and consider our position in relation to another’s point of view. It’s how we bring people and societies together, knowing consensus on any matter is near impossible. It’s also how we create and innovate to find purposeful campaigns for our clients.

This doesn’t mean you can’t have a firmly held opinion. It means considering your decisions’ impact on others and the shared environment we inhabit.

The world definitely feels unbalanced. In fact, we’re probably facing the most disruptive pivot point since the end of the second World War, when borders, economies and the balance of global world power undertook seismic shifts.

The slow dismantling of women’s rights, natural disasters triggered by climate change, Australia’s environmental decline and the collapse of native species are beyond concerning.

These issues often feel out of our control: what can one person do to affect such global events? But in Australia, we’re lucky to live in a wealthy liberal democracy which means we can actually have an enormous impact. Politicians from the major parties are (hopefully) now listening to the Australian people, because when they don’t, they’re replaced by independents who do.

Feeling disempowered or unable to change what you worry about is normal. The problem can feel so large that even attempting to change it seems fruitless. But it’s not. Waves are made from drops of water, forests are made of individual trees, and societies are built on the shoulders of millions of individuals. So the voice and choices of one person do matter.

Within our business we pivoted to purposeful work some time ago. Not for any reputational benefits, but because our own ethical beliefs, and those of our team and clients, made it a necessity. We know it’s a journey and we won’t always get it right – but we will continue to listen, question and choose clients and projects that align with our shared belief system.

To be honest, there’s far more satisfaction ending each day knowing you’ve had a positive impact on people, communities and the planet, rather than selling more stuff that people don’t need or that harms the planet (and its people).

The key to the success of purposeful campaigns was listening, being authentic, and leveraging the help of experts to help guide thinking.

So, as you close off your work day, I encourage you to think about what you’re actually achieving and how it’s impacting others. You can always find purposeful work if you go looking for it. When you find it, you’ll not only change your life, but you might just be the drop that starts a wave of change.


Chris Dodds, Icon Agency co-founder and managing director – digital


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