Behind the Curtain: The State of EHS and Sustainability Today

Behind the Curtain: The State of EHS and Sustainability Today

Insights from our survey of over 75 industry professionals

January 16th, 2018

Antea Group recently surveyed more than 75 EHS professionals to see what trends are emerging, what priorities the pros are setting, and what challenges they are facing as they plot their courses and set their strategies.

Respondents represented all experience and organizational levels, from local EHS manager to C-Suite, and came from organizations ranging from under 100 employees to well over 5,000. Industries represented included manufacturing, food & beverage, technology, oil & gas, railroad, chemical, and more.

Let’s take a look at the (sometimes surprising) results, and what they might mean for the year ahead.

Valuing Business Value

When asked what they loved most about their role, the most popular answer among respondents was contributing to the success of their organizations, with 31% of the vote. This was followed by having a positive impact on the world (23%) and problem solving (20%). While we were perhaps surprised to see organizational success as such a clear winner, especially in a profession often associated with altruism and idealism, this clearly represents the field’s move to increasingly align and integrate sustainable socially and environmentally responsible practices with the bottom line, and with the organization’s successful holistic performance. As we like to say around here, “When the economics work, the social and environmental benefits will last,” and it seems more and more EHS&S professionals agree.

#Priorities

In order to get a sense of how this passion for pursuing organizational success plays out in their day-to-day lives, survey takers were then asked to name their top four priorities for the year. This open-ended approach garnered lots of thoughtful, varied responses, but there were still patterns to be found.

Overall, the most common priority for the year was compliance and safety, followed closely by business development, then successful project completion. Other top responses included reducing incidents and risk levels, containing costs, and leadership/ people management. While there was a great deal of overlap in the replies, we also saw that within the EHS framework there was still lots of room for managers to customize strategies for their organization’s needs, balancing their goals against their unique constraints and requirements.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doing More with Less

When asked about their biggest challenges, there was surprising unity among respondents: the most popular answer by far was resource constraints, winning 35% of the vote (followed by risk management at 14% and compliance management at 12%). While this scramble for talent and budget is not new, it’s clearly not going away and remains an issue to be reckoned with. Technology constraints were not far behind on the list (8.5%), and we’re willing to bet that this challenge will only grow, as what becomes possible must be reconciled with what’s practical (and affordable.)

However, there is good news—leadership buy-in came in at last place (6%) on the challenges ranking, indicating that perhaps we’ve at last reached a positive tipping point in the struggle to communicate the value of EHS and sustainability efforts to executives. Perhaps this points to good news for future resourcing battles, as leaders are proving more and more willing to acknowledge the business value of EHS&S efforts.

All in a Year’s Work

So, where does that leave us? For starters, anyone feeling the pinch or worrying about how to get it all done this year can rest assured you are not alone. And secondly, while clearly we’ve got our work cut out for us (and are trying to do a lot with a little), we think we’re ready for the challenge.

Stay tuned for more industry research and insights to come from the Antea Group blog and please reach out to us if we can help you achieve your goals this year. 

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