More than ever before, the mega trends of sustainability, digital transformation, skills shortages and consumerism are bringing the challenges of environmental, health and safety (EHS) and risk management to the front of the corporate agenda.

Increasing awareness and stakeholder pressure mean that organizations are having to accurately report what they are doing to reduce their impact on the environment and society at large. This type of reporting can positively influence their brand, and ability to enter markets, launch new products, and provide affordable access to growth capital.

EHS, sustainability and risk management are now board level priorities as organizations recognize the positive impacts that market leading performance in these areas can bring. However, these functions are having to do more with less in an increasingly challenging environment. In a 2018 survey by Arcadis, the key drivers of change were:

  • EHS managers are looking for more value and increased efficiency.
  • Increasing regulations are creating a more complex operating environment
  • New opportunities from maturing technology, such as EHS data management and data analytics
  • Societal trends such as an ageing workforce and social media
  • An increased focus on sustainability, both reputational and by investors

The key focus should be about managing a profitable and growing business, while at the same time achieving higher levels of sustainability performance complying with the myriad of regulations and protecting its people, its assets and the environment. The EHS agenda requires the application of knowledge from a diverse range of subject matter experts that can take technical know-how and apply it to a broader commercial agenda. Typically, EHS covers a range of subjects that include environmental compliance, product compliance, health and safety, risk management, due diligence, supply chain auditing, air emissions, sustainability and climate change, to name but a few.

To ensure long term and sustainable benefits and improvements, EHS and risk management should consider people, structures, processes, and technologies. Leveraging digital solutions can help make these processes more efficient, improving operational performance as well as providing data driven insights to better engage with their stakeholders and to make better business decisions. The implementation of digital solutions such as data lakes and advanced analytics, not only drives efficiencies where data is disparate and scattered across different areas of a company, but it will also help reduce long term IT investment and maintenance costs.

Best in class organizations are embedding EHS into a broader enterprise operational risk management framework; this can help ensure it is an intrinsic part of the overall business strategy increasing collaboration and coordination to drive improvements in enterprise risk management. For the leaders in these functions, this often means increasing demand for communication and collaboration across the business. By improving the performance and transparency in response to the many pressures that leaders are facing, their functions and teams are being elevated to a more strategic role in the company beyond compliance.

The result of an integrated Enterprise Operational Risk management approach ultimately delivers overall better business value. To achieve cost effective and sustainable solutions that drive value for a company, the application of digital is crucial.  Optimized data driven information management can provide efficiencies and future focused insights that will deliver improved outcomes for the business, as well as an enhanced reputation through transparent risk management and improved EHS, sustainability and social performance.

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