Last year’s extended Covid 19 lockdown in Victoria meant many in business reviewed what they do, how they do it and, ultimately, why they do it.
R2A, as a small firm of consulting engineers, has always had a business view that has seemed a little different to many we encounter. Whist we understand the need to be profitable, that has never been the primary motivation.
We have always felt that what we do must be worthwhile, not just to ourselves but for the people (our clients) for whom we do it.
Practically, if we can’t make sense of what we are being asked to do, we decline to keep doing it, to the very great surprise and puzzlement of well-paying customers.
That what R2A is and does improves the place, and, when we have likeminded clients, it’s a joy to do. And we get paid to do it. Such an understanding means that we want to get up and go to work.
It also has other flow on effects. In the philosopher Immanuel Kant’s terms, it means you treat people as ends in themselves, not merely a means to an end. This rejects traditional authoritarian hierarchical management styles.
Rather than telling people what to do and how to do it, you provide ‘pits of opportunity’ for them to fall into and see how they go. When it succeeds, results are outstanding and extraordinary. Focussed, effective enthusiasm abounds.
Apto is the result of Gaye’s involvement with the Women in Engineering Group at Engineers Australia and a collective frustration with being forced to wear ill-fitting scaled down men’s PPE onsite. The intention of the Apto business was to force the market to respond and deliver a better outcome for women in industry. This necessitated the design, manufacture and small-scale sale of tested superior women’s PPE garments in Australia.
For the most part this strategy has worked, although it appears that unless the pressure is sustained on the market, it will revert. To this end the R2A board has determined that R2A will continue to sponsor Apto until it becomes a self-sustaining business.
Gaye Francus & Richard Robinson