Multinational corporations and experts in the fields of human capital, sustainability and occupational safety and health signed a commitment this week to the safety, health and well-being of people.

Google, Nike, L’Oreal, BNP Paribas, Hermes and AP Moller-Maersk were among companies represented at the Center for Safety and Health Sustainability’s (CSHS) “Human Capital Project – Global Summit: Putting People Back Into Sustainability” at L’Oreal’s Aulnay Campus. Joining them at the Paris summit were investors and leading thinkers in human capital, sustainability and occupational safety and health.

The investment community is increasingly requiring companies to demonstrate in reports that the safe, sustainable management of their staff and contractors is a core strategic goal, attendees were told.

Discrepancies in safety standards

The approximately 80 delegates heard that many companies are not treating the sustainable management of their people as a priority. Too few are reporting to shareholders on non-financial metrics, including the safety, health and well-being of their employees. There are often discrepancies between the safety standards of a business’s staff and its supply chain contractors.

With trends such as worker shortages, aging workforces and rapid changes in practices and technology, investors are increasingly examining a company’s management of its people before investing, summit attendees were told.

A "call to action"

CSHS and delegates signed a commitment to “put people back into sustainability.” CSHS Chair Kathy A. Seabrook (shown above) said, “This commitment is a call to action that safety and health is integral to sustainable business performance. And this means businesses must measure, evaluate and publicly report their performance on safety and health.”

The summit was the fourth in a series of CSHS workshops aimed at highlighting the role occupational safety and health plays in sustainability and the management of human capital. The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), a CSHS co-founder, helped organize the event.

“We want more people, employers, policy-makers, investors and professionals to recognize that good health and safety protects human capital, creates social value and is the foundation of a sustainable future,” said IOSH Chief Executive Bev Messinger. “Sustainability is based on people. Governments and organizations of all sizes and sectors rely on well-trained and equipped people – their human capital – to deliver environmental and financial sustainability.

“Enterprises that nurture and protect their people, creating social value, are better placed to become sustainable organizations within sustainable communities,” she added.

CSHS is a collaborative effort by the American Society of Safety Professionals, American Industrial Hygiene Association, Canadian Society of Safety Engineering and IOSH. Its member organizations represent more than 100,000 workplace safety and health professionals around the world, helping to push forward a new global protocol that aims to improve the measurement and value of human capital in corporate decision-making and government policy. The protocol is driven by the Social and Human Capital Coalition.

“Very seldomly do companies talk about the sustainability of their people, and this needs to change,” said L’Oreal Corporate Health and Safety Director Malc Staves. “It must be the future. It must be about people, people, people. We all have the right to work safely, and many companies don’t care enough about the people who work for them.”