Risk and Reward: EHS Functions Executing On The CEO’s Sustainability Strategy

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Risk and Reward: EHS Functions Executing On The CEO’s Sustainability Strategy

As firms race to define and finalize their sustainability strategies, it is becoming increasingly clear that the operational business functions – EHS, engineering, real estate, and maintenance, are mission critical to drive implementation and boost ESG & Sustainability performance. These strategies have been kick-started often with declarations from the C-suite that have come after intense deliberation. However, every strategy comes with specific opportunities and inherent risks. 

1. Increased Pressure Can Make Diamonds  
As time progresses, firms are finding that more and more of their peers are joining both voluntary and elective frameworks. This is driven by financial incentives, environmental consciousness, and overarching social trends, all of which influence c-suite decisions that carry firm-wide implications. Eventually, this pressure trickles down to the EHS function where EHSQ metrics become as important as the firm’s bottom line every quarter. This data will be used by international regulatory bodies, financial institutions, and the common citizen to rate and thus rank the firm’s performance, which can result in either fines, increased investment and affect brand value. 

2. Walking The Tightrope Of Growing EHS Responsibilities
As this increased pressure transforms into executable actions, it is crucial that EHS teams not lose sight of their original duties. The growth in ESG priorities will require a reconfiguration in regular duties, which can threaten the employees’ focus on maintaining the proper health and safety levels across their specific operations. Diminishing this can negatively impact a firms EHS compliance, unduly increasing risks that could result in injuries or worse. To combat this, EHS practices can spin this increased pressure into increased budgets to meet changing demands. Increased budgets can deliver cutting-edge technologies, proper training and allocation of resources to meet the firms’ greater goals. 

3. Building Long-Term Success With Short-Term Goals
The media is currently filled with firms and nations pledging 2030-, 2040- and 2050-year goals centred around emissions, waste, energy consumption and carbon to name a few metrics. While these long-term goals are critical to avoiding global tipping points, it is imperative that internal operations teams set benchmarks to be reached in the interim years to make sure progress is occurring. Either quarterly or annually, this enables the various operational teams to compare strategic progress, identify lagging areas and highlight programmes that have displayed continued success. Doing so will ensure that the firm can provide evidence to its internal and external stakeholders that it is indeed committed to its sustainable strategy. 

To get more in-depth insights on how EHS and ESG leaders are managing environmental risk, we’ll be speaking with Matt Airhart, President at VelocityEHS, Steve Bochanski, climate risk modelling leader at PwC, and Don Harris, Director of EH&S Compliance Data Management at AT&T at the upcoming Verdantix in person event. Register for your ticket now here.

Nathan Goldstein

Senior Analyst

Nathan is a Senior Analyst in the Verdantix EHS practice out of the New York office. His current research agenda focuses on the intersection of sustainability and ESG trends within the EHS operational sphere. Prior to joining Verdantix, Nathan worked at Bluefield Research, where he covered the global water industry, with a focus on the energy, industrial and digital segments. Nathan holds a MSc in Water: Science and Governance from King’s College London.