One of our key responsibilities as SH&E professionals is to deliver the safety message, emphasizing the benefits delivered and value added, in a concise, convincing manner. We must find ways to speak often with senior executives and seek their views on the role of SH&E professionals. The Executive Summit, held each year during ASSE’s conference, is one way that the Society helps members engage in this important activity. The summit is an excellent opportunity for the SH&E profession to connect with the business community.
These conversations and connections are even more important as the dynamics of business continue to change in response to trends such as globalization, workforce reductions and a shift to a more service-oriented economy. As SH&E professionals, we are being asked to assume additional and varied responsibilities that often extend well beyond our traditionally defined roles. In this changing business landscape, employers want versatile workers. The value proposition model is shifting from “Do you have the technical skills required to do the job?” to “How do your skills add value to the organization?”
ASSE is taking the lead in guiding its 32,000 members and the SH&E profession through this transition. The Society is working hard to ensure that the value proposition for SH&E professionals is understood by employers/customers, and we are striving to make sure ASSE members have the knowledge, skills and competencies to compete and prosper in the changing workplace environment.
One element of these efforts is the value of the safety professional study. This study aims to 1) reposition the SH&E profession; 2) reposition the SH&E professional; and 3) prepare safety professionals to become value-add employees. As Tom Cecich, ASSE’s Vice President, Council on Professional Affairs (COPA), says, “A rising tide raises all ships.” If we elevate the safety profession, we will ultimately raise the value of those who practice safety. If we elevate SH&E professionals, we will elevate the safety profession.
Based on the findings of the value study, we have developed a multifaceted action plan. COPA is identifying high-value activities, such as risk assessment, that SH&E professionals are uniquely qualified to perform. The Society is also working to better understand how risk assessment techniques are used globally to identify and manage workplace risks and ultimately enhance workplace safety. Compliance will always be one of our responsibilities. But in today’s organizations, we deliver the greatest value through our ability to assess workplace risks and implement cost-effective solutions.
ASSE is promoting the value of the safety profession in other ways as well. For example, to counteract the influx of unaccredited safety-related certifications, COPA is working to educate employers on what competencies and credentials to look for when hiring SH&E professionals. This will help employers understand the skill sets an SH&E professional should possess.
In addition, we are promoting safety management as an integral component of corporate sustainability. The Sustainability Task Force has developed a safety and health sustainability index that defines socially responsible companies and is preparing to promote this index globally.
The strategic vision driving all of these efforts is that SH&E professionals will be viewed as value-added business leaders who can hold the highest positions in organizations and who have the competencies needed to manage a wide range of risks. The business community and the public must view the SH&E profession as a key component of good corporate governance, and its practitioners as employees who bring value to their respective organizations.
“You don't get paid for the hour. You get paid for the value you bring to the hour.”