Back in 2006, I was a little over 3-years into my staffing career and had the privilege of touring several major refineries. Prior to entering each plant, I was required to take part in a safety briefing by the EHS leader.
These briefings happened to be my first introduction to EHS as a function, and to be candid, what I heard in these briefings just did not reflect what I saw in the plants themselves. Dilapidated buildings, visible waste material leaking from pipes, little or no use of PPE by workers and a lack of heating systems in offices were only a small sample of what I witnessed on these tours.
Interestingly, the experiences that that stood out most vividly in my mind were those EHS briefings, I could not help but think that the company, their leadership, and the plant EHS professionals really had no idea what environmentally responsible, safe, and hygienic operating conditions were really supposed to look like.
Over the past 4-years, the significance of EHS has increasingly become more important, and I have come to realize that EHS hiring initiatives can be as nuanced, strategic, complex, and mission-critical as any other function…and in many situations, even more so.
But how does the prioritization of EHS command equally bespoke EHS hiring strategies?
I asked a selection of Fortune 500 EHS leaders from my network to share the strategic EHS priorities driving departmental operations, both inclusive of COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 related initiatives.
- Adjusting the balance between overarching corporate and locally nuanced EHS programs
- Building EHS risk assessment into all newly proposed operational process changes
- Reviewing and modernizing EHS management information systems, and further integrating BI and data analytics into EHS decision making processes
- Implementing a go-forward pandemic plan inclusive of health screening methodologies, quarantine procedures, technology platform implementations for remote working, etc
- Driving sustainability strategies related to carbon neutrality, water scarcity, waste reduction, circular economy
- Strengthening diversity, inclusion, and respect in all areas of the organization
- Continuing the quest for safety excellence and zero accidents while also promoting holistic wellbeing via mindfulness, ergonomics, and stress reduction
- Continuing to invest in a systemic approach to risk mitigation via Human & Organizational Performance (HOP)
- Advancing Serious Injury Fatality (SIF) risk reduction and SIF precursor identification and corrective action
- Considering both direct and indirect workforces in the development of social responsibility and EHS plans
- Insulating the supply chain from the effects of future pandemics and other global events, and rethinking inventory management and the future viability of just-in-time (JIT) inventories
- Reducing the time to adapt to significant disruptive events via the acquisition of broader environmental permits
- Rethinking the remote workplace, considering the associated safety and ergonomic impacts, and planning for the resulting costs and liabilities
- Aligning EHS hiring priorities to changing environmental regulations, chemical process safety programs, and hazardous material stewardship
- Progressing the business toward automation, electrification, digitalization, and artificial intelligence through connected devices and software platforms (IoT)
While there are certainly common themes among the examples detailed above, there are also significant and glaring differences. Although the appetite for generalist EHS executive and sub-executive talent will certainly remain high, the demand for specialized talent aligned to various components of a company’s unique EHS strategy seems to be growing at an even faster pace.
If your talent acquisition or technical staffing partner fails to recognise how nuanced EHS strategy requires an equally nuanced EHS hiring strategy, this can result in a delayed or failed achievement of deliverables which in turn can have a catastrophic impact on lives, communities, reputations, and bottom lines.
As an EHS leader or Talent Acquisition professional, what EHS operational and/or hiring priorities are top of mind for your organization as we near the end of 2020 and look forward to 2021? Please feel free to get in touch.