Sometimes we pitch health and safety as required. Sometimes as value-adding. Have you ever thought about how you could pitch health and safety as making the world a better place?
Hey, it’s Andrew, and this is Safety on Tap.
Since you’re listening in, you must be a leader wanting to grow yourself and drastically improve health and safety along the way. Welcome to you, you’re in the right place. If this is your first time listening in, thanks for joining us and well done for trying something different to improve! And of course welcome back to all of you wonderful regular listeners.
Let’s get to it. The year is coming to a close, so much to do and so little time! Today I’m chatting with Eric Knight. Eric is the Global Head of Safety, Health and Environment at AstraZeneca, who isn’t content with implementing good safety health and environment in the company, he thinks there is a bigger mission than that. And it all ties in with the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, or SDG’s.
With no further adieu, here’s me and Eric:
Here’s the couple of links we mentioned in the conversation:
I love Eric’s energy! It really struck me when we first met, and I hope you got some good vibes through your earphones or speakers from that conversation. And obviously I think there is an opportunity for you to consider how you can focus on the big picture, not just in your company, not even your industry – but how we are, or might, change the world for the better in the context of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Talk about a strategic focus. I hope your cogs are turning thinking about how you are taking a moon shot, as my friend and previous guest Wade Needham would say. Positioning your work, and the way you are influencing your company, as making the world a better place…..that’s compelling, that’s big picture, that’s a moon shot worth taking.
So apart from the obvious central message, here’s my three other takeaways from that chat with Eric Knight:
Takeaway #1: Be opportunistic. It’s easy to get daunted when we hear the story from someone like Eric at a company like AstraZeneca. Because he is so clear, how this all fits into the UN Sustainable Development Goals seems so logical and strategic, AstraZeneca are so big, and they’re making such great meaningful progress. But Eric failed to get an earlier wellbeing program up and running. We can have all the plans in the world, and sure plans are important, and sometimes useful, but Eric said he was opportunistic. The SDG’s were out there, Larry Fink’s letter arrived, and probably a few other things lined up for Eric to seize the opportunity to connect all the dots and make his pitch. Despite all the plans in the world, you need to be always scanning for the signals that your opportunity to seize the moment is approaching, or arrived. Part of your planning need not be predicting everything, but being prepared for when the opportunity presents itself.
Takeaway #2: Listen to the language Eric used. Eric used a consistent tone of language throughout that conversation to help us understand how he and his company are talking about safety, health and wellbeing. Within the first few minutes he shared the shift from compliance, to this being an ethical obligation, a social responsibility. How their past sucked inspiration out, and their future does the opposite. He talked about passion, both his own and others. He drew on other people’s words like Larry Finks’s: we expect companies make a positive contribution to society. We care about life, he said. Wanting to make a difference. And, what does it feel like?
Takeaway #3: That last point, that really unusual language for a health and safety professional: What does it feel like? How do you feel about this? Plans and data and requirements and systems are all great – how often do you ask, and really listen to, how people are feeling, how you are feeling? You might learn something you wouldn’t otherwise have.
Thanks so much for listening. Until next time, what’s the one thing you’ll do to take positive, effective or rewarding action, to grow yourself, and drastically improve health and safety along the way? Seeya!