Expanding your organization into a new global location, with little or no understanding of the local EHS and cultural aspects of operating your business there, can be extremely challenging. When it comes to ensuring a successful cross-border expansion, there are a number of factors to take into consideration, some of the most crucial being Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) and cultural aspects.
Corporate EHS leaders are challenged with establishing EHS programs, dealing with language and cultural issues, and understanding regulatory requirements and the cultural nuances of doing business in the host country. While the marketing and sales functions of the company may have parallels in each country, EHS expectations, practices, and cultural norms can, and often do, differ greatly. When these differences are not fully understood and planned for, unexpected, time consuming and costly issues may arise.
What’s the Worst that Could Happen?
Corporate EHS’s biggest challenges, above and beyond language barriers, can include issues with administrative processes, Human Resource alignment and operations, labor union interaction, communication and cultural insight, the overall pace of business operations, and EHS compliance. Not fully planning for these differences may result in a reduction of employee productivity, operational delays, costly reorganization of internal groups, a negative outlook of the company in the new locale, and ultimately a loss of revenue.
Are you at risk? There are concrete steps you can take to prevent these kinds of difficulties:
- During due diligence, partner with local experts who can help identify and as necessary, help navigate through potential issues your company could encounter. Take the time to ask the right questions and fully understand the EHS regulations, compliance concerns, and cultural difference and nuances of your host country.
- Thoroughly think through all possible risk scenarios, research any concerns that arise, and explore alternatives and safeguards ahead of time. Get outside help, if needed.
Where Do You Go From Here?
Corporate EHS managers face the challenge of ensuring the company’s employees are safe and that their operations are in compliance with local regulations while also ensuring that these functions don’t hinder the organization’s productivity. The complexity of this assignment increases exponentially as the company expands into new geographies.
By doing as much as you can to understand and address the EHS requirements and cultural nuances before entering into and starting up a new location, the likelihood of an issue arising and or experiencing a business interruption decreases. Although the preplanning and fact gathering necessary to ensure a successful expansion can be time consuming, the extra effort will pay off in the short and long run.
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