Attention EHS Professionals: Challenge Yourself, Because the Status Quo is not an Option

May 16, 2017 Susan Smart

Some of the Medgate team at the 4th Annual Verdantix Summit


The 4th Annual Verdantix Summit kicked off with a passionate call to action for EHS professionals: Challenge yourself. Not changing is not an option.

Welcome remarks by Verdantix CEO, David Metcalfe, and the keynote address by ERM Managing Partner, Matt Haddon, set the tone for the conference. Both called upon the audience of EHS leaders to disrupt their organizations with the ultimate goal of driving business value.


The need to change isn’t a vague concept – it’s backed by research

According to Metcalfe, recent Verdantix research shows that EHS professionals need to challenge themselves. He boldly stated that EHS needs a new mission statement, “you need to run your businesses in a smarter way than in the past.”

Specifically, he articulated three drivers for change:

  1. The EHS professional needs to add value to the business.
  2. The power of technology and data must be harnessed.
  3. Hiring, retaining, and motivating employees, particularly millennials, need to change. By 2022, millennials will make up the biggest worker group and they are highly value-driven. Organizations need to look at ways of leveraging this talent pool.

Leading companies are integrating EHSS into everyday operational risk management to unlock value. Haddon cited that in the Oil & Gas sector it’s often stated: if we don’t do EHSS well, we don’t operate. He added, “we need to move away from focusing on the details to focusing on driving value in the organization.”

Managing traditional EHSS issues is getting easier but helping operations prove that EHSS performance is mission critical is very difficult.


Change is hard, but it’s essential

Haddon’s main theme, “not changing is not an option” was underscored by a series of challenges to the EHS Professional:  How will you choose to be effective versus being right? How will you move from a policing force to being a value driver? How will you fulfill your mandate to drive value?

High-performing companies are moving from a focus on compliance to broader initiatives around value protection and EHSS activity, value enhancement and operational outcomes, and ultimately, working toward the future vision of sustainable value creation and business outcomes.


Move beyond functional silos

To support change, both speakers underscored the need to move beyond the traditional silos of today’s business.

“EHSS Managed in a functional silo is hurting the bottom line. Not doing something to change is not an option,” explained Haddon. He cited research that supports the idea that leading companies are shifting from compliance to adding broader value.

“Reimagining how business is done cannot be done by a functional unit – big decisions need to be made that require people come together from different areas and functions.” He shared the story of a global mining company that has created “the mine of the future.” The organization looked at the big picture of their business and are now implementing driverless trucks and other initiatives that have reduced safety incidents by 50%. Another example was an oil and gas company that unlocked $500 million in capital via team collaboration and joint planning.

Leveraging technology, data and fostering a different, more collaborative mindset are some of the criteria for the EHS leaders to embrace to get the attention of the C-Suite and the Board. It’s about rising to the challenge of thinking differently and becoming a critical driver of business value.


For more information on the future of EHS and EHSQ, read this blog post.

About the Author

Susan Smart

Susan Smart is the Director of Marketing Communications at Medgate where she is in charge of overseeing and executing Medgate's marketing communications strategy. Previous to Medgate, Susan was the Director of Marketing at BlueCat. She has held various management positions at The Tite Group, Vena Solutions, and Intelliware, among others. She holds a Masters in Industrial Relations, English, Psychology, and Marketing from Queen's University as well as a Certificate in Advanced Account Management from the Schulich School of Business at York University

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