Let’s face it; we don’t go into the field of Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) without wanting to make a difference in the world. And yet, whether we work in a small, medium, or large-sized organization, none of us is solely responsible for how well EHS performs. The “home” that EHS has within an organization can make a big difference in its effectiveness — and in how well EHS professionals meet our personal career goals.
Suppose you are interviewing for positions as an Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) professional at Organization A and Organization B. EHS reports to a director in the Human Resources department in Company A, three levels below the CEO. At Organization B, EHS reports to the VP of Product Development. What does the placement of EHS within the organization tell you about the likelihood for on-the-job fulfillment or frustration? What does it tell you about each organization’s vision for and commitment to EHS? Does this align with your own perspective on EHS?
Other things being equal, you might favor the organizational structure offered by Organization B. Reporting to an executive in charge of product development (the heart of the company’s mission) seems to offer greater likelihood that EHS will be well integrated in the organization and wield more influence.
What about your boss, however? How does he/she view EHS? How many functions report to this individual? How much “mind share” will you have? In either organization, you will need to assess your prospective boss.
Assessing your boss
If you are looking at a mid-level position, perhaps the organization’s EHS leader will be your boss. It’s important to assess his/her position and influence — is he/she a manager? Director? Vice President?
Does he/she seem to be able to acquire the resources to achieve his/her goals?