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The Importance of ESG Initiatives: An Interview with KPA’s CEO

Sage Appel /
In this week’s episode of The Safety Meeting, Sage is joined by KPA CEO, Chris Fanning, to discuss the importance of ESG and how it's influencing the future of workplace sustainability and compliance.
President and CEO Chris Fanning headshot

[00:00:30]
So, Chris, I’d like to start this off by asking you what ESG means to you broadly within the industry and then also within the context of KPA? 

Sure. So, thanks for having me. And ESG, you know, the acronym: environmental, social, governance, is very holistic. It really covers, I think a lot of aspects of how to run a business, whether it is your contribution to the carbon footprint in the world, how you govern yourself in terms of, you know, societal impact. And of course, to me, a bare minimum is just, are you in compliance with the regulatory requirements that your state/country requires of you. 

[00:01:08]
So it’s about compliance and then beyond that kind of, what is your responsibility to our environment and to our people? 

Absolutely. 

[00:01:16]
So how can safety leaders take the lead on ESG initiatives? What can they be doing? 

Well, one, they should be educated on what it exactly means. I think it’s a topic of great discussion. It’s going to be with us forever. A large impact I think is undeniable now, if you look at the data. I think in the C-suites across the world, this is really evolving at different rates, depending on what part of the world you’re in and what industry and how large or small your business is. So it’s going to be pretty exciting, frankly, over the next 10 years. But if you’re a CEO, because everything really does need to start at the top, if you’re trying to make a true change in how your company operates and how the culture has changed from within, you need to become educated. You need to understand, you know, what you have to be doing from a compliance standpoint. You have to be aware of how your company impacts the environment and society.

And then you need to sit down and put together, like any other part of your business, whether it’s sales and marketing or product development, a plan. That might not take you from a zero to a ten overnight, right, because there’s an investment component to this, of course. But you need to sit down and map out what are we going to do over the next let’s say three to five years? What’s realistic? What’s required? How much money? What type of expertise do I need? What type of talent within my company do I need? And you need to put those all together, get buy-in from the company, which is in and of itself a pretty big challenge. But an opportunity, because I think people really want to do this, and proceed.

It’s a lot of hard work. But we all are going to need to do it. And I’m sure there are fellow CEOs out there who are already embracing this warmly. And there are others who will be the last to do it, just because that’s how the world works, right? 

[00:03:13]
So it sounds like from the top, it’s kind of a two-step process, right? There’s making sure the C-suite leaders are really educated on what ESG is and how it applies to their company. And then taking that information and making a plan to disseminate it across their organization and make sure it’s really reflecting in their processes.

Chris: Well put.

[00:03:39]
How does KPA help support your ESG goals? How can we really get in there and be a partner to the leaders who are trying to make ESG initiatives a focus for the organization? 

Sure. So what we do is we focus exclusively on ESG and EHS — environmental, health, and safety. I think those terms and acronyms are slowly but surely blending over time.

That’s what we do. We have 300 employees. And we come to work every day, living and breathing ESG. And our goal is to help companies, our customers create safer, more ESG friendly work environments. And we do that through having software that can help companies create and manage these programs by having expert consultants who can advise clients on how these programs should be set up and to help them be compliant with regulatory requirements across federal and state laws, because we operate in the U S right now. 

And we also have a massive, award-winning training catalog that is really specific to ESG. And I think between the software, the experts, and the training, that really gives us different levers to help clients devise a safety program.

We’ve been in business for 30 years. So, we don’t know everything, but we certainly know what it takes to start a program and kind of get it going within a company. 

[00:05:12]
Sure. You know, and even if ESG is a relatively new acronym on the scene, the concepts behind it are not, and it sounds like KPA has a long history of helping people, you know, support those goals.

We do, we do. Many thousands of customers and growing every day. It’s a very satisfying part of what we do. 

[00:05:34]
Do you have any parting words of advice for the leaders listening into this podcast on what they can be doing to make sure that they have a really ethical and compliant team? 

I think start, in one word.

I think if you’re, you know, you may be hearing ESG, you might see it in the news, but from the role you have at your company, at the very least you should start to educate, start reading, start going to a conference or two, or attending a webinar or two, or listening to this podcast. And get smarter about what ESG means and start connecting what ESG means to how your company is inevitably going to need to act moving forward. I think if everyone did just that alone and you know, in the first year if you will, just get more aware, more educated, start thinking about implications, that would accelerate quite a bit when you think about that across many companies, many industries. Just starting is half the battle.

[00:06:37]
That’s great advice. Well, thanks, Chris. I really appreciate you taking the time today to talk about ESG with us. 

My pleasure. Thanks for having me. 

[00:06:47]
Thank you so much for listening to today’s episode of The Safety Meeting, KPA’s podcast that makes you smarter about current trends and best practices in workforce safety.

Stay safe out there!

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