As the saying goes, 'If you are not at the table, you may be on the menu.' EHS departments are on the menu in today's cost-cutting environment. Long-established roles are those that can most easily be outsourced or shifted to others, such as frontline employees. Indeed, in a number of corporations, the traditional environmental leader now works for the company's new 'chief sustainability officer' or another person with some such title. That 'chief' may know nothing about the complexities of environmental science, technology, and regulations.
This column explores the transition that has occurred in environmental management over the past decades - and concludes that the role of the traditional environmental department is in a state of transition, if not outright crisis. 'Crisis' is a strong word, but an appropriate one. It highlights the critical need for environmental leaders today to clearly define their roles and responsibilities and adjust staffing size and competencies to reflect current company strategy.