I recently participated in a discussion among senior environmental, health and safety (EHS) managers about how to attract recent college graduates and young professionals into the EHS management field. It occurred to me that this discussion, like most others on this topic, consisted exclusively of a bunch of Boomers, whose perspective and assumptions may not reflect those of the Millennial Generation they were discussing.
The careers of the people in the room and the EHS management profession began at the same time and grew in tandem. It as exciting for us. There were new regulations. Public expectations were increasing. We had top management attention and support, and hefty budgets. We were able to build programs, conduct research on and deploy new technologies, and establish new career paths. Boomers have experienced the EHS profession as a growing, dynamic, and prominent discipline within our companies. A career spent in EHS management had great appeal to us.
But, over the past decade, changes in our profession have been much more subtle and incremental. I wonder, now that EHS management is a mature and recognized component of business management, does the Millennial Generation view our field as less exciting and innovative than we did?
Sure, society faces major challenges ranging from loss of biodiversity, global warming, deteriorating ocean ecosystems, deforestation and limited water resources. But, when it comes to core EHS management programs, such as auditing, training, and compliance, have we lost our luster in the eyes of the Millennial Generation?
Should we begin to shift our EHS career paradigm to a model designed around bright, capable, young people who are more interested in mastering the basics of our profession and then moving on to careers in other parts of the business? If so, it would have a profound impact on how we manage our people and programs.
Am I “out in the ozone” in my thinking, as we Boomers used to say when we were kids? What have been your observations and experiences?