[00:00] – Holly Foxworth
Welcome back again this morning to Axiom’s Fast Track to OSHA COVID Compliance Virtual Summit. And we’re now at session three of eight. And here we’ll be covering the ESG. So for those of you, maybe if you didn’t catch the past two, my name is Holly Foxworth. I’m a registered nurse. I’m also the webinar host and marketing manager for content here at Axiom Medical. We’re thrilled to be able to bring you such a dynamic event today that covers such a broad range of topics. And we have some excellent industry experts that are going to be able to provide some best practice information about what it is that you would need to do as an employer to get ready for the new mandates that are quickly approaching.
So before we get started, quick review, should you have any type of question that’s related to a technical complication, you should notice at the bottom of your screen there will be several different squares down there at the bottom. There’s one that will have a question mark and so you can type in your question there. However, one thing that is different from the traditional webinars that we do is that this time we have what is called breakout rooms. So you’ll notice that at the top of your screen, on the right-hand side, that is where you can enter the breakout room. And so that’s where we’ll also conduct the question to answer. You can enter at any time. However, our CEO and President, Mark Robinson will be joining that, he will not be there and will not be arriving until after he completes his content that we go through here. So I think that is the majority of it. As a reminder, if you are not registered for the next event that will follow, you will see a prompt that will come up on your screen at the very end and you’ll press the “Register Now” button that will give you the link, and then we will catch you on the backside. So I am going to go ahead and turn this over to the president and CEO of Axiom Medical, Mark Robinson, take it away.
[01:57] – Mark Robinson
Hello, everybody. And I’m really proud to be able to talk to such a great audience of people about such a subject, which is pretty close to my heart. Environmental, social, and governance is a kind of more contemporary label for what we used to call corporate responsibility back in the day. And as you can probably tell from looking at me, I’m kind of old and I’ve been around a while, and so I’ve acquired a lot of experience of antiquated terms and corporate responsibility seems to be one of those that has gone away. Nonetheless, that’s really what we’re here to talk about. So what is it? Why is it important? Well, the theory here, and it’s one I’ve worked through for my whole life is that it’s a kind of compassionate capitalism theory, right? It’s the theory that stockholders are not the only stakeholder in a Corporation and that serving the best interests of the stockholders actually requires you to serve the best interests of the other stakeholders, too.
[03:04] – Mark Robinson
If you think about it, your employers, your customers, your vendors, the communities that you live in and the planet as a whole are all important factors in whether you can succeed in business. If your employees don’t want to work for your company, if your customers don’t want to buy your product, if your vendors don’t want to sell to you, if the community regards you as obnoxious, or if humanity as a whole fails because the planet boils us all alive, then we as business people failed. And I think that’s something that I feel personally, as I said at the start of this very passionate about. I think employers need to take a compassionate attitude towards their team members. I think they need to be responsible for how they behave, both from a business perspective and as they engage their communities. And I believe that they need to be held accountable for doing the right thing. It’s a kind of broader view of the role of business than the view that has prevailed may be more common for most of the last 20 or 30 years, but I think it’s the right view. And the COVID pandemic has really dragged everybody into having to think about this for the simple reason that our employees have kind of decided, well, they’re going to work for us if they want to and they’re not going to work for us if they don’t. There’s this phenomenon called the great resignation, where large numbers of employees are deciding to change jobs, and a motivating factor has been how their employer has behaved towards them and towards everybody else throughout the pandemic. Have they enthusiastically adopted best practices to protect their workers, their customers, and everybody else that the organization comes into contact with from the risk of workplace acquisition of COVID, have they treated their work as well in terms of time off to deal with COVID, accommodations to work from home in order not to become infected unnecessarily because their job doesn’t require them to be in an office.
[05:27] – Mark Robinson
So really, that’s what ESG is and why it’s important is I think none of us will succeed in our business objectives over the long term if we don’t adopt at least some of the ideas and attitudes that are represented by ESG. I didn’t mention investors here at all, but I mentioned that I’m old. I’m a Boomer, the last of the boomers, born in 1960, the people who are beginning to make all of the decisions that affect all of us are no longer the boomers. They’re actually the millennial generation. There’s a generational shift taking place, and that generation has a much different attitude towards business life, capitalism, and the world than the Boomer generation did. The Boomer generation was me now and the Millennials are a little bit more kind of big picture. I really do care about the environment, I’m willing to postpone personal financial goals in favor of serving a bigger mission. And so as we start to confront investors who are millennials, customer organizations led by millennials, vendors who are led by millennials, communities where the majority of people in the community fall outside that Boomer range, and the planet as a whole is getting to the point where that generation is fading away. So we have to step up as business leaders to recognize the context we operate in.
[07:08] – Mark Robinson
So what does this mean for the impending COVID ETS regulations? One thing to keep in mind is that these regulations will be mandatory, not optional. We’ve had many conversations over the course of last month with actual and potential clients, and some of the conversations have gone, yeah, we really need to do something about this, and others are like, yes, we’re going to wait and see, and if there are no penalties, maybe we won’t do much about it. And I think that attitude is going to get people into really deep trouble. OSHA has adopted wholeheartedly the idea that it can and should encourage whistleblowers. So people who know what you’re doing as a business from the inside, employees, customers, people who see how you behave and how responsible you are. If they don’t like where you are, they will pick up the phone or send an email to OSHA and say, hey, my employer, my vendor is not doing the right thing here, and that’s a pretty big deal because once you’re in OSHA’s sights, you’re going to be subject to investigation. If you’re not squeaky clean, you are going to be fined, at least and potentially prosecuted. The reputational damage that comes with that is horrible and hard to fix. If you’re in, like all of us, are dealing with the need to attract employees. Given that turnover in employees is at a record high and your reputation says, hey, these people don’t care about whether I get COVID or not. How easy is it going to be, right? How much opportunity you’re going to lose out on because you don’t have the right culture that supports protecting your employees and your customers.
[09:06] – Mark Robinson
On the other hand, enthusiastic compliance will pay all kinds of dividends. You’ll become an employer of choice. You will have a very loud and proud basis to talk to the world in the marketplace and the pools of people that you need to recruit from by saying yes, not only do we recognize that this is a mandatory regulation, but we’re really happy it’s there because we care and we’re happy to show you that we care. There are hard benefits from this, and there are soft benefits from this. The hard benefits are avoiding fines, avoiding the negative reputational consequences. The soft benefits are cultural. How do my employees regard working for this company? How do they feel about being part of this team? How much do they embrace the mission? How does that pay dividends in terms of productivity and commitment and willingness to refer other people either as clients or as employees? So hard and soft benefits. But I’m strongly recommending enthusiastic compliance rather than grudging compliance. So how can you leverage that compliance to maximize the ESG impact? In other words, how can you show that you are attractive to people for whom ESG is important? I think emphasizing the health and safety culture. In some industries like oil and gas, this is the lifeblood of the industry, safety is number one, and they mean it. In other industries or other sectors not so much. Lagging behind significantly and actually trying to drive towards and emphasize a health safety culture. That’s a little step beyond the safety culture. It’s where actually you want to make sure that the health of your employees is safe in the workplace. You can make a point of presenting what you’re doing to comply with the regulation and potentially step beyond it as a stakeholder benefit. You can communicate positively and engage directly with your stakeholders to explain the value system that informs your decisions here, not just the government mandate that gives you no choice. You can solicit stakeholder input about how to implement it most effectively. Your employees do the work that you employ them to do. They have a viewpoint on what keeps them safe. It’s really important that in operationalizing the regulation that you talk to the people who are directly affected.
[11:56] – Mark Robinson
I’ve already said enthusiastic adoption, going the extra mile, actually doing more than is the minimum required is the one way to stand out from the crowd and attract those ESG investor dollars. Attract the employees for whom that is important, and credential yourself to the clients that care about it. And the vendors who are going to be a better supply chain for you if they know that you share a value system with them.
And then the final thing is it never hurts to stand on the mountain and yell out loud as you can, hey, look at me, this is what I’m doing. So PR around it, media and paid media. All of that is a valid strategy. So one of the things I get asked a lot is not just what’s going to happen with the so-called Biden mandate and the Emergency Temporary Standard that’s coming out. But what else is on OSHA’s agenda? We have a revival of the electronic records rules that were in place before the last administration stepped away from them. That means electronic record keeping and reporting to OSHA. This is actually a pretty big deal. Does it have an ESG implication? Yeah. Absolutely. Again, enthusiastic adoption, early adoptive status. All of that rebounds to your reputational benefits. There is a heat exposure standard that is going to emerge. The first steps are already in flight. There is a consultative period about to start. This is about regulating how you protect employees from excessive heat at work. And this is going to be a really big deal. At Axiom Medical one of the many products we have is an injury case management product where we help manage the process for workers who are injured at work through from points of injury to fully recovered and returned to work. And one of the things we note is that every year we get about a 20% pop in the volume of cases over the summer months, June through August, driven by heat exposure and the consequences of that, heatstroke and other severe illnesses and potentially fatalities. So with more education and better behavior on the part of employers and stronger processes to protect employees, would they actually help? Yes. And especially in the first four weeks of employment, which is when the vast majority of heat-related illness occurs.
[14:52] – Mark Robinson
And then what we’re likely to see after this Emergency Temporary Standard is that it morphs into a permanent standard that has more broad application, not just covered, but infectious disease generally protecting against the flu, for example, protecting against TB, which is on the rise horrifically is very fast on the rise in the US and other workplace acquired issues. So we’re likely to see this become a permanent standard with a broader reach. And employers today responding to the ETS should be thinking in terms of how do we position for the next generation of infectious disease control.
[15:44] – Mark Robinson
This slide isn’t mine, but I know what it means. We have a breakout room available where we can continue to chat about this. Questions can be asked and answered, and I will be joining that breakup room in a few moments. So thank you for lending an ear for the last few minutes. I wish I had an hour to talk about this. It would have been thrilling and fulfilling and totally engaging, and you would have spent that hour very happy that you spent it. But for a 15 minutes cycle, this is the best I can do. I think Holly is going to tell us what’s up next, and I’m going to skip over to the breakout room. So thank you very much.
[16:29] – Holly Foxworth
Fantastic. Thank you, Mark, and great job for that. Yes. As he mentioned, we will have a Q & A session that’s going to occur there in the breakout session, the breakout room. And remember the way that you access that is to simply press on the “Join” button on the breakout box that’s there, on the far right side of your screen at the top. So if you have some questions or even if you just want to hear what other people are asking about and just kind of see what’s going on over there, we encourage you to join. The final reminder before we close this one up is that if you are not already registered for the fourth of eight sessions, then we will have a box that comes up it will prompt you to press the “Register Now” button it’ll give you the access and access link to join us for session number four. And we will see you there. Thank you.