EHS and sustainability 2019 challenges and priorities

EHS and Sustainability Practitioners Get Real with their Priorities & Motivations

Insights from our survey of 40+ industry professionals

January 16th, 2019

EHS and sustainability professionals know that their fields are changing. From new expectations around sustainability reporting to the shift toward proactive incident management, there are many concerns and disruptors that impact how we get our work done and what our priorities are. At Antea Group, we know that knowledge-sharing can help us all do better and feel more confident about our choices. This year, we surveyed over 40 EHS and sustainability professionals to discover their outlooks on upcoming challenges, priorities, and more.

Our survey respondents were a diverse bunch, coming from all organizational levels, organization size, as well as several different industries, including chemical, manufacturing, tech, oil & gas, and others. Read on to find their insightful answers and our break down of what they all mean.

Data Disruptors

To better understand what issues and concerns our survey respondents had, we asked them to tell us the biggest challenge they face in their role. Coming in at number one (as it did last year) was resource constraints at 31% of the vote, followed by data management at 19% and risk management at 17%.

While resourcing still holds its spot as the biggest challenge, data management is a rising concern. After being in the industry for over 30 years, we’ve helped our clients shift from pen-and-paper methods to digital storage and advanced data management systems, both of which have brought EHS and sustainability programs to new heights they could have never reached in their past, analog states.

And with technology disrupting the way we all work to increased concerns around privacy, GDPR compliance, and using Big Data and analytics to solve problems, we expect to see data management continue to grow as a concern for EHS and sustainability professionals everywhere.

A Changing World Means Changing Priorities

Last year’s survey revealed that compliance and safety were at the top of everyone’s minds as their number one priority, and this year is no different. However, there were also several other priorities competing for the number one spot this year, including zero harm to people or planet, keeping up with regulations, and continuing to develop a safety culture. The second and third priority spots had a variety of answers in all different areas, including implementing new EHS training programs, energy conservation, ISO 45001 certification, team development, and industry benchmarking, to name a few.  

These diverse responses showcase a common thread in EHS and sustainability right now—having to do a lot with a little—and impart that in a changing world, there isn’t just one priority, there are many and they all matter.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

To dig deeper and find out what really makes matters to our EHS and sustainability peers, we asked them what they liked best about their roles.

A clear majority (41%) answered that contributing to the success of their company is what they like best. At 19%, the runner up was solving problems, followed by making a positive impact on the world at 14%.

One interpretation of the most popular answer, “contributing to the success of your company,” could make it seem like our respondents only want to help their company reach its goals, but we see a deeper meaning. EHS and sustainability professionals have many roles at work, but a goal we all share is to make our workplaces and world better than they were before. Contributing to the success of their company means that they can make a greater impact by working with others who share a common goal. If our hunch is correct, it seems our survey respondents are sure that they can make things better when they work together.

A Bright Future

While priorities continue to diversify and the world of EHS and sustainability can feel a bit jumbled and complex, we see a united front—everyone wants to do their best, rise to face new challenges, and help their organization succeed safely and sustainably. When we all work together, great things can happen, and we’re hoping everyone can put a big check mark next to their priorities this year.

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