An Inclusive Culture Starts with You
Getting to know others really well — yes, those that aren't EHS&S professionals — is a way to widen the circle and invite them in. It takes time to understand their perspectives — from inventory turns, customer focus, market conditions and other business concerns.
Imagine, for a moment, that you are starting a new job as an EHS&S professional — let's say within a new plant. How do you spend your first 90 days on the job? Do you audit their EHS&S processes? Analyze their TIR data? Do you also take the time — and I mean really take the time — to get to know the entire circle of new colleagues? Could you get to know the HR manager, the security manager, CFO well enough to understand their perspectives? Do they understand your role? Could you take time to get to know their team?
Sometimes we put ourselves in the box. As we enter a conference room filled with "other" types of professionals (think manufacturing engineers, senior leaders, accountants, electrical/civil engineers, HR, marketing), do we set ourselves up for success? Or is our mindset one of discomfort — a feeling of not belonging? Or could the mindset be (without a ridiculous ego) one that says: "I have the education, experience and credentials to bring EHS&S to the strategic table – they need me. They just don't know it...yet."
The first week on my job as an HR manager, I briefly met with a Safety Manager. Before the end of our meeting, he had secured an invitation to join a monthly safety walk. His participation in those walks led to him joining the leadership roundtable, which, in turn, allowed him to lead significant initiatives that drove magnificent results. As a result, the Vice President had the cell phone number for that Safety Manager; and when that Safety Manager called, the VP took the call.
Remember that when you are feeling left out (like a victim), you have absolutely no power. Yet we all make choices that can grow that power. It starts by changing how you think of your own role, it builds when you build relationships with others and it extends to your entire organization when you create teams. One of my mother's golden rules to her 10 children was to welcome and appreciate others. "Don't wait for others to invite you," she used to say, "Widen the circle."