ESG, Faces of EHS, Safety Culture, Sustainability

Faces of EHS: Amanda Smith on the Impacts of ESG

Over the past 17 years, Amanda Smith’s career has been dedicated to leveraging technology to empower people. She started her career as an Assistive Technology Specialist, where she used technology to enhance the learning experience for students with disabilities.

Later, Amanda transitioned and became an Environmental Specialist at DTE Energy, where she employed the use of technology to solve environmental management challenges. She loved the work she was doing with software and decided to join Enviance, where she spent more than 14 years in various roles, including Implementation Consultant, Product Manager, and Chief Solutions Officer. During this time, Amanda had the opportunity to develop and implement software solutions that tackled environmental, safety, and sustainability challenges across multiple industries.

When Enviance was acquired by Cority, Amanda was thrilled to take on her current role as VP Solutions Marketing and Enablement. There, she leads the creation, marketing, and support of industry-specific solutions that help solve EHS & Sustainability problems and provide valuable technology solutions to our customers. Cority provides software solutions to manage environmental, health, safety (EHS) and sustainability programs.

For our latest Faces of EHS profile, we sat down with Amanda to discuss her biggest influences in the industry, building a responsibility-focused culture, and four specific impacts of ESG.

Q: How did you get your start in the field?

I started as an Environmental Specialist at a local energy company (DTE Energy), where I was responsible for administering and deploying software to help manage environmental compliance. In this role, I learned a lot about the EHS industry as well as software. I loved the software part of my job, and using technology to make my job, and the work of others, easier. I transitioned to working for a software company, where I held many roles and had the opportunity to learn about EHS and sustainability challenges across multiple industries.

Q: Who has been your biggest influence in the industry?

It’s difficult for me to single out one person as my biggest influence since I’ve learned so much from so many people that I’ve met in the EHS industry. Over the past 17 years, I’ve had the privilege of encountering numerous individuals who are passionate about making a difference and helping others. For instance, I’ve learned from customers who have shown me creative and effective ways to solve EHS challenges, such as implementing innovative compliance programs or incorporating sustainability practices into their operations.

Likewise, I’ve been fortunate to work with inspiring mentors and leaders who have shown me the importance of empathy and building strong, cohesive teams. Through their guidance and mentorship, I’ve gained invaluable insights on how to motivate and empower my team, while fostering a culture of accountability and trust.

Furthermore, I’m constantly inspired by the dedication and ingenuity of my own team members, who always go the extra mile to support each other and our customers. They bring fresh perspectives and ideas that challenge me to think differently, pushing me to become a better leader and team player.

Lastly, I’m fortunate to work alongside strong and accomplished women leaders who serve as role models for me and others. Their unwavering commitment to excellence and their willingness to support and lift others up are qualities that I aspire to emulate.

The EHS industry is full of inspiring individuals!

Q: What’s your favorite and least favorite part about working in the industry? Would you change anything? 

My favorite aspect of working in the EHS industry is the opportunity to collaborate with dedicated and exceptional professionals to solve significant issues that I deeply care about.

My least favorite part is the often insufficient allocation of resources to EHS, a challenge that is unfortunately not unique to the EHS industry. EHS has historically been perceived as a cost center rather than a value-adding area, resulting in EHS professionals being tasked with more responsibilities without a corresponding increase in resources or budget. This has limited innovation in the field and hampers progress.

If I could change anything, I would accelerate investment in EHS, attract more innovators, and increase investment and resources dedicated to solving EHS problems.

Q: What are your thoughts on safety culture? How can company leaders make safety a value within their organization?

I believe creating a responsibility-focused culture that includes both safety and sustainability is incredibly valuable. Safety and sustainability focused cultures share a commitment to promoting responsible behaviors and creating a shared sense of responsibility among employees, which can help to create a culture of continuous improvement and encourage employees to take responsibility for the broader impact of their actions.

In a responsibility-focused culture, employees are encouraged to think proactively about how their actions affect the organization’s overall impact on the environment, society, and the community, in addition to workplace safety. This encompasses a range of issues, including workplace safety, overall wellbeing, and responsible use of resources.

There are several things that leaders can do to establish safety and sustainability as values within their organization. Leaders can involve employees in initiatives, empowering them to identify issues and suggest solutions. This helps to create a sense of shared responsibility and encourages a culture of continuous improvement. Leaders should also provide employees with the necessary resources, such as safety equipment, training, and mental health support, to enable them to work safely and sustainably, while ensuring that safety and sustainability procedures are clearly communicated and enforced. It is also important to recognize and reward employees for demonstrating safe and sustainable behaviors, as doing so helps to reinforce the importance of these values and encourages employees to prioritize them in their work. Finally, leaders should lead by example and follow safety procedures themselves while modeling safe and sustainable behaviors for their employees.

By promoting employee health, safety, wellbeing, and responsibility, leaders help to create a culture that supports and values its employees, promotes sustainable practices that benefit the organization, its employees, and the wider community, and attracts and retains talented employees.

Q: What will be the impact of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles on the EHS industry?

In my opinion, ESG principles are going to shake things up for the EHS industry, but it’s not all doom and gloom. In fact, I believe it will ultimately lead to more resources for EHS programs and new technologies that improve operations. Four specific impacts I expect are:

  • Greater emphasis on sustainability: ESG principles will push companies to prioritize sustainability initiatives, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions or improving water management practices. This will require EHS professionals to integrate broader environmental and social considerations into their traditional focus on compliance, health, and safety. For example, an EHS manager may need to work with other departments to reduce the amount of energy consumed by manufacturing processes.
  • Increased collaboration: ESG requires companies to engage with stakeholders, including employees, customers, investors, community members, and regulators. EHS professionals will need to collaborate across departments and with external partners to ensure goals are met. For instance, an EHS manager may need to work with the marketing team to develop an outreach program that educates consumers about the company’s commitment to sustainability and safety.
  • Enhanced transparency: ESG reporting and disclosure requirements will increase transparency, which will require EHS professionals to collect and report more data, and demonstrate the impact of their programs. For example, an EHS manager may need to provide data to investors that demonstrate how the company’s safety initiatives have reduced incidents and injuries over time.
  • New opportunities: ESG principles will create new business opportunities for companies that can demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and safety. EHS professionals can play a key role in identifying and pursuing these opportunities, such as renewable energy projects, waste reduction initiatives, and supply chain sustainability programs.

Overall, ESG principles will have a significant impact on the EHS industry, requiring EHS professionals to broaden their focus and collaborate more extensively with other departments and external partners to meet company goals.

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