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A culture of safety starts at the top. It takes leaders who understand that safety needs to be at the forefront of every major business decision and ensure safety is a guiding value throughout their organization. That’s precisely what it means to be a CEO who “gets it.”
This year’s honorees are leaders with decades of experience who represent U.S. industries coast to coast. They’re passionate about safety and the impact it has on their employees, organizations and communities. They set bold goals, focus on continuous improvement and deliver strong results, recognizing that safety never stops.
In a year like no other, these nine CEOs consistently have gone “above and beyond” for their employees. Not only do their collective efforts help advance the National Safety Council mission to save lives, from the workplace to anyplace, I have no doubt that their exemplary leadership contributed to business becoming the most trusted institution worldwide, according to the most recent Edelman Trust Barometer.
CEOs who “get it” lead by example – such as David B. Burritt of U.S. Steel Corp., whose organization was named to Newsweek’s list of the “Most Loved Workplaces” last year for its permeating belief – from the frontline to the boardroom – that each of its 23,000 worldwide employees deserves to return home safely to their loved ones every day. Or, take Matthew Flannery of United Rentals Inc.: a leader who aspires for his team to return home better for having come to work – safe, inspired and motivated. For Brian Evans, leader of Environmental Air Systems, caring for those around you means having the courage to speak up in unsafe situations – a “people-first” approach to accountability that has resulted in 50% fewer incidents in a single year.
These leaders also challenge the status quo. Nick Stanage of Hexcel believes a zero-injury workplace is possible and has implemented new policies and systems that challenge traditional safety metrics. In his prior role leading Jetco Delivery, Brian L. Fielkow went against the grain and incorporated safety into Jetco’s value proposition, which attracted clients who are willing partners in a shared safety mission.
Over the past couple of years, the divide between work and life has narrowed. These leaders recognize that the constructs of workplace safety have evolved as well. Understanding that many on-the-job incidents stem from external stressors, Mike Greenawalt of Rosendin included a program to address topics related to mental health, diversity and inclusion. Similarly, Vijay Manthripragada of Montrose Environmental Group knows that holistic employee well-being creates healthier workplaces and communities, which is why he formalized the company’s commitment to several of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals.
Finally, CEOs who “get it” listen and have a desire to continually improve their organizations and the communities in which they live and work. After soliciting candid feedback from more than 8,000 AES Corp. employees across 30 countries and 10 languages, President and CEO Andrés Gluski embarked on a three-year project to improve safety culture, which resulted in new technologies and practices that fuel employee wellness. Similarly, Revathi Advaithi, CEO of Flex, used feedback from the company’s frontline workers to refine safety protocols and training, implementing a global program focused on eliminating machine-related injuries.
Every worker in America deserves a CEO who gets it, and these nine individuals not only inspire their own employees, colleagues and other industry leaders, but they also help people live their fullest lives – on and off the clock.