SUSTAINABLE ENTREPRENEURSHIP IS ALSO A MUST FOR MULTI.engineering IN ORDER TO CONTINUE TO PLAY A SIGNIFICANT ECONOMIC ROLE AND TO SAFEGUARD ITS APPEAL ON THE EMPLOYMENT MARKET. MANAGING DIRECTORS WOUTER VAN GOEYE AND NIKO FIERENS DRAW UP AN INTERIM EVALUATION. “CERTAIN SUSTAINABILITY ASPECTS ARE STRONGLY INTERWOVEN IN OUR BUSINESS OPERATIONS AND CORPORATE CULTURE. IN OTHER AREAS, IT IS OUR INTENTION TO TAKE FURTHER STEPS.”
Wouter: “We use the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals as a guideline. In some areas our company is already doing quite well, in others we are aware that there is still work to be done. I think it is no different in many companies. Anchoring sustainability in your business operations is a continuous improvement process that involves trial and error.”
Good health & well-being
The attention to the well-being of our employees is in any case one of the things that we have attached great importance to at MULTI.engineering for many years”, says Niko. “Wouter and I have both experienced firsthand that you cannot give the best of yourself for your colleagues, customers and company if you are not feeling well physically or mentally. We are all humans with quite some resilience but also quite some vulnerabilities. That’s important to acknowledge. Certainly as we are not a production company that works with raw materials. Our employees are our most important capital. In order to be able to deploy them sustainably, we as managers keep good health & well-being in our sights at all times.”
Wouter: “It is a question of progressive insight. Non-violent communication, check-ins for meetings, lectures and workshops with, for example, Bieke Van Gool and Better Minds at Work, training soft skills, ... We are always picking up new things to develop our organisation. For us it is a natural reflex to take good care of our people, but this is not so self-evident in every organisation. It pays off, this is confirmed by the results of our employee satisfaction surveys increasing year after year.”
“Taking care of our employees also means that we want to manage this company well, and that we are primarily focused on the longer term,” Niko continues. “We have great respect for our shareholders, who are still the same after 25 years, and we also harbour the ambition to make our employees shareholders. We have a lean, flat structure in which everyone is involved as much as possible in strategic choices and we make sure that the operational resources of our organisation are used correctly. Milking the company dry or having a ‘bandit’ mentality are absolutely not tolerated here. We put the interests of the company and our stakeholders first. Another example of long-term thinking in our organisation is that we have never fired anyone for economic reasons. We prefer job security and the preservation of expertise over immediate shareholder returns and will always look for ways to keep people employed rather than firing them and ruining families. We fully take our social responsibility.”
“Our baseline ‘No Engineers, no Future’ might as well have been ‘No Engineers, no Sustainable Future’. As engineers, we have a major impact on protecting the planet.”
The commitment to making society a little better for people and the environment also translates into all kinds of large and small initiatives for people who are less fortunate, such as a toy collection or donating the traditional Sinterklaas gift to a good cause. Wouter: “As far as responsible consumption is concerned, we also participate in Mei Plasticvrij (Plasticfree May), for example, and we steer our employees towards sustainable mobility choices as much as possible.
For example, if an employee asks us to exchange part of his salary for a more expensive, more polluting company car, our answer is a firm no. But if someone wants to do the same for a train pass on top of his company car, we fully support him in this. I truly believe it is our duty as a company to pursue a policy that offers and encourages sustainable choices. For example, our board members were the first to switch to hybrid vehicles years ago and our office was already equipped with solar panels and a geothermical heat pump 15 years ago, which was quite exceptional at the time. It is logical that you sometimes encounter scepticism or resistance, but only in this way can we all succeed in taking steps forward.”
Job with impact
“The great thing is that as engineers we can actually do a lot more to protect the planet against climate change than the average citizen. Over the past years
we have seen the number of projects for our clients related to sustainability increasing tremendously. Currently we see over more than half of the projects we’re involved in, a strong focus on finding sustainable solutions for problems that threaten our planet.
We engineer projects on (floating) solar panels, offshore wind turbines and tidal turbines, resulting in affordable and sustainable energy for all. We help to build and maintain critical energy infrastructure and metro lines. For industry, the construction sector, cities and municipalities, hospitals, etc., we supervise projects related to sustainable industrial processes and buildings. And we carry out studies for various clients in the maritime sector on the greening of their fleets ranging from methanol
and hydrogen powered ships to exhaust gas treatment systems. Our baseline is ‘No engineers, no Future’, but as far as I’m concerned you can go ahead and make it ‘No engineers, no sustainable Future’.”