Good Deeds, Reputation and Trust

Article by John McGagh

“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.”

Benjamin Franklin

THERE are many great things happening every day across our Institution and our chemical engineering community – programmes that support members to deliver benefits to society; accreditation and awards that certify and recognise the highest standards in our profession; help for students and early-career chemical engineers; using our expertise to help policy-makers make sound decisions; and ongoing work modernising our governance.

As we approach the end of the year, I want to step back from all this activity and say a word about two big themes that are dear to me – trust and reputation.

 

Our reputation is directly linked to the reputation of the profession – and you as a professional chemical engineer. As with process safety, we must work at it every day, and protect it

But we can never take this reputation and trust for granted. Our reputation is directly linked to the reputation of the profession – and you as a professional chemical engineer. As with process safety, we must work at it every day, and protect it.

In the short term, Council’s focus on building a positive future for the Institution has been put on hold, whilst we concern ourselves with the Extraordinary General Meeting on 11 January 2018. If you are a Voting Member you will have seen the two motions tabled, the explanatory texts from their respective proposers, and details of how to vote.

Feedback and exchange of views are invariably good things. However, some of those who put their names to Motion 2 have been acting and commenting (for over a year) in ways that fundamentally attack the reputation of our charity. Council has adopted a policy statement on this: www.icheme.org/protectingreputation

A fundamental duty of our Trustees is to “avoid exposing the charity’s assets, beneficiaries or reputation to undue risk.” It is in that context that Council, other volunteers, and staff are putting so much effort into engaging and listening to Members worldwide, and seeking your support for Council’s motion – Motion 1 – at the EGM.

Yes, we want to change to reflect the developments that are happening in the society we serve. But the choice you are being asked to make is between two visions of change. Motion 1 is to manage change responsibly and professionally, building on our heritage, safeguarding our status and programmes, and repaying people’s trust in IChemE (see p4). Motion 2 is about tearing things down, with no clear picture of what, if anything, happens after that.

Together, we have spent almost a century building this Institution’s reputation. I urge you to use your vote wisely, to help ensure that we do not commit Franklin’s “one bad deed”. Our reputation, after all, is also yours.

Article by John McGagh

IChemE President, 2017–2018

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