On its surface, environment, health and safety (EHS) compliance is all about successfully incorporating and managing local, regional and federal regulations within a company’s operations. However, the engine that actually drives compliance is far more nuanced — which was a common sentiment among EHS leaders at a recent EHSxTech event.
“There’s no doubt among tech company EHS leaders that compliance is an absolute must for running a healthy business,” Peylina Chu, Antea Group Vice President and Technology Segment leader, says. “But compliance goes beyond legal definitions. It encompasses a combination of priorities, all of which ultimately guide their strategies and how they measure whether they’ve achieved compliance. And each tech company is on their own journey.”
So, what are some of those driving forces? What priorities do EHS leaders at tech companies consider when implementing, managing and evaluating compliance?
Based on our years of EHS consulting experience, as well as insights gathered at EHSxTech, below we share several factors that help define and propel EHS compliance in the tech sector.
1. The business value of EHS compliance
There’s little doubt that EHS offers tangible business value — and compliance is at the heart of it all.
While every industry faces potential fines from regulatory agencies for noncompliance, for most tech companies, the importance of EHS compliance as a business initiative isn’t solely driven by avoiding fines. After all, most tech facilities are lower-risk offices, call centers and data centers, and fines can be minimal in the grand scheme of things.
Rather the more compelling business reasons for focusing on compliance include reducing workers’ compensation costs, enhancing productivity and improving employee retention—the latter of which is a rising concern in the tech industry. The bottom line? Compliance simply makes business sense.
EHS risk factors such as employee injury are compliance drivers for every tech company. After all, the purpose of compliance standards and regulations is to mitigate threats to human, workplace and environmental health and safety. As a result, identifying and managing risks is a key focus of any EHS team, especially since most are charged with managing compliance across multiple facilities around the world.
In addition, risk tolerance is often a key consideration as EHS leaders strive for compliance. Essentially, risk tolerance is the level of risk an organization can bear if compliance isn’t met. As mentioned above, fines are typically minimal to non-existent; however, the PR nightmares that follow a fatal accident can have a damaging impact on your brand and business.
From C-suite executives to employees to customers, there are a variety of internal and external stakeholder groups interested in and impacted by EHS. Customers are starting to ask about EHS compliance as part of their technology vendor selection process. Employees care about their safety, and want to make sure their company has programs in place to keep them safe. The C-suite wants to ensure they are not blindsided by regulatory violations. All of these stakeholders have the power to influence compliance and the overall success of EHS programs.
As a result, many EHS leaders take stakeholder perspectives and expectations into consideration as they prioritize where to focus their compliance efforts to mitigate risk, harness opportunity and maintain strong stakeholder engagement.
4. Brand Protection
As EHS becomes more intertwined with a company’s overall business strategy, EHS leaders are finding that compliance isn’t just about keeping workers safe and meeting requirements — it’s also about helping preserve their company’s reputation. As previously mentioned, just one incident can cause major PR headaches, and ultimately damage a brand’s reputation and credibility.
5. Company Culture
What does company culture have to do with EHS compliance? The short answer is: Everything. Employee behaviors and attitudes directly impact compliance. When EHS is embedded into company culture, employees get the education and support they need to understand what EHS is, why compliance matters, and how they can contribute.
However, according to our research, 72% of tech company employees are largely unaware of their company’s EHS function — signaling to us that building a culture around EHS is still a work in progress for many tech companies.
What drives compliance for your tech organization?
Compliance is a journey — and no two companies are on the exact same path. However, chances are each of these compliance drivers has a place in your EHS strategy. The challenge is defining which are most important in helping you reach your compliance goals.
Tech companies face a myriad of complex compliance challenges. Learn what EHS leaders in the tech sector say are their top compliance challenges, as well as best practices for addressing them.
For more information on the intersection of technology and EHS, check ou EHSxTech.com.
Want more news and insights like this?
Sign up for our monthly e-newsletter, The New Leaf. Our goal is to keep you updated, educated and even a bit entertained as it relates to all things EHS and sustainability.