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The Evolving Role of the EHS Manager in the Sustainability Era

Written by Ximena Murua
on November 23, 2023

The role of EHS managers is undergoing a significant transformation, marked by a heightened focus on ESG matters and sustainability pledges. Explore the increasing importance of sustainability commitments and disclosures, with EHS managers playing a pivotal role in their formulation and execution. 

Compliance Evolution: Navigating EHS Transformations

The landscape of Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) management is undergoing a profound shift, driven mostly by the increasing emphasis on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) matters, increasing compliance oversight, and sustainability considerations. In this blog post, we delve into how the role of the EHS manager has transformed, with a particular focus on the growing importance of sustainability commitments and disclosures, and the expectation for organizations to not just comply with regulations but actively contribute to a more sustainable future.

The Integration of ESG Matters

ESG considerations are now at the forefront of corporate decision-making. EHS managers find themselves deeply involved in assessing and managing the environmental and social impacts of their organizations. Therefore, embracing and actively addressing ESG considerations has become increasingly critical. Many people, governments, and customers are focusing on how companies impact the world. 

A study by McKinsey & Company found that investors and business leaders are realizing that having a strong ESG plan can help a company succeed in the long run. The increasing amount of money invested in ESG shows that it's not just a passing trend - it's a real and lasting business practice.

Moreover, companies focusing on ESG don't hurt their value; in fact, they often do better. A good ESG plan is linked to higher returns on investment and less risk.  Today, EHS managers need to make sure their company performs well in both helping society and being successful in business.

Sustainability Commitments and Disclosures

More and more companies are publicly committing to sustainable practices such as reducing their carbon footprint, conserving resources, protecting nature and operating responsibly. In crafting these commitments, EHS managers play a pivotal role, not just in their formulation but also in ensuring they are actioned.

The significance of these sustainability efforts is underscored by the growing trend of companies voluntarily disclosing their environmental impacts. GRI, a champion of sustainability reporting, embraces research showcasing a remarkable surge in companies, spanning various sectors and global regions, opting to disclose their sustainability performance. Notably, the GRI Standards emerge as the most widely embraced framework for sustainability reporting.

According to the 2022 KPMG Survey of Sustainability Reporting, a staggering 96% of the world's largest 250 companies (the G250) reported on their sustainability performance. What's particularly noteworthy is the global reach and adoption of the GRI Standards.

EHS managers need to be aware and fluent in standards like this, understanding the performance data required and how to ensure company commitments are kept and improvements are made.  

Data-Driven Sustainability

In the dynamic landscape of EHS management, the role of the modern EHS manager extends far beyond traditional responsibilities. EHS managers are intimately familiar with the potency of data, recognizing it as a crucial resource in propelling sustainability initiatives forward. The reliance on accurate data is paramount, serving as a cornerstone for:

  • Measuring Progress: Data allows EHS managers to track key performance indicators (KPIs) related to environmental impact, resource conservation, compliance and overall sustainability goals. Metrics like carbon emissions reduction, waste reduction, and energy efficiency improvements can be quantified through robust data analysis and map to both performance targets and compliance requirements.
  • Pinpointing Areas for Improvement: Data enables EHS managers to identify specific areas within an organization's operations that can be improved for better sustainability outcomes. This may involve analyzing data on resource consumption, waste generation, or environmental incidents to pinpoint hotspots that require attention.
  • Substantiating Positive Environmental Impact: Data serves as the evidentiary foundation for showcasing positive environmental impact and importantly overall compliance. By documenting and analyzing data on sustainability initiatives, EHS managers can provide concrete evidence of the organization's commitment to environmental responsibility and regulatory compliance. This evidence is crucial for internal reporting, external certifications, permit compliance and stakeholder communication.

Organizations proficient in leveraging data for sustainability are more likely to achieve their environmental goals, highlighting the indispensable role of EHS managers in harnessing data and ensuring compliance to drive tangible sustainability outcomes. This is reinforced by a report by MIT Sloan Management Review and BCG, which states that data-driven decision-making is associated with a higher likelihood of achieving sustainability goals.

Navigate Your Sustainability and Compliance Journey

Whether you're an EHS manager guiding your organization through the nuances of EHS compliance or an individual recognizing the imperative to embed sustainable practices into core business processes, we encourage you to take this transformative step. Connect with us today and discover how ERM Libryo can be your powerful ally – a platform that not only manages local, national and global regulatory requirements and compliance but also ensures you move forward with trust in your data. The future of EHS management is data-driven, and we're here to empower you through it!

You might like to read this next: Empowering EHS+ESG in a Digital Era