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How Focusing on Women Can Help You Improve D&I and Safety at the Same Time

Toby Graham /
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Most teams of safety professionals could stand to improve their diversity and inclusion initiatives, and most organizational decision-makers know it. 

But reliably targeting and measuring D&I in the safety profession isn’t easy. We’re talking about the intersection of two big, complex, and often overwhelming ideas. There are numerous approaches and factors to consider. For all stakeholders involved, the conversation can feel at once ambiguous and intensely personal—and progress can seem frustratingly slow.

So why not start with the largest segment of all, and focus on diversity and inclusion for 50% of the population?

Yes, many organizations still lag behind in terms of women’s representation in safety program development and leadership. From personal protective equipment to manager career advancement, virtually every component of EHS isn’t designed with women in mind. A “one-size-fits-all” program could more accurately be described as “one size that fits men.” 

What’s an organization to do? Three safety industry leaders offered some excellent advice in a recent article published by EHS Today. Holly Burgess (EHS manager, Siemens Mobility), Kathleen Dobson (safety director, Alberici Construction), and Adrianne Pearson (owner, Evolving EHS) shared insights on how safety teams can create safer, more inclusive environments for women. Their thoughts and experiences show how improving workplace conditions for women results in lower risk and better results for everyone. They also see D&I not as a cost, but an opportunity to invest in an organization’s future. 

For instance, here’s what Dobson had to say about the positive impact of bringing more women into EHS:

“Women can make a big difference in the industry, whether in the trades or in management. The opportunities are almost endless, as companies understand that their own growth and success is built partially on a diverse and collaborative workforce. The glass ceiling is ready to be demolished and reconstructed with people who support inclusion, diversity, dependability and leadership. When women make up 50% of the overall workforce, we should be able to represent more than 9 or 10% of the construction workforce, and companies are beginning to recognize that there is untapped talent in the workplace.”

Read “Women in Safety: How to Attract, Retain and Develop a Diverse Workforce.”

For more insights about the intersection of safety and diversity—and how to cultivate both at your organization—check out some of our recent blog posts:

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