VF: The Role of Transparency to Foster a Healthy & Safe (H&S) Company
June is Health and Safety Month, designated by the National Safety Council to bring attention to how companies are creating safe workplaces for their employees, while also highlighting how companies address safety issues. At VF, every day is focused on doing what is right for our people – and that begins by fostering a safe workplace where they can thrive. Kyle Cutsail, Vice President, Global Health & Safety at VF Corporation, shares some key insights and how his team promotes a safe environment for all VF associates worldwide.
VF’s Health and Safety program and culture is owned by everyone within the organization. These efforts are not just based solely within the Health & Safety department, they are owned by associates at every level, from those employed within our distribution centers to the retail stores to corporate. When associates are empowered by leaders to be transparent and report issues, we can mitigate unsafe situations immediately and proactively take corrective actions across other areas to avoid similar issues.
Safety can be ambiguous. Ingrained in VF’s culture is a movement of sustainable and active lifestyles to ensure the betterment of people and the planet – a core belief that drives every meeting, annual objective and company goal, and sets the tone for associates to own at a personal level. Our team strives to keep messaging and programming fresh, so associates are aware of what measures we are implementing in offices, distribution centers and retail stores. We also set clear expectations and clarify operating procedures, so associates know what to look for and steps to achieve a safe workplace. Our goal is to have no injuries. When we listen to associates and identify what is most important to them, we are able to engage them at a deeper level both inside and outside of the workplace.
It is important to make reporting a health or safety issue or concern easily accessible to every associate. Monitoring performance and gauging risks become seamless when associates are given the ability to speak up in real time. Not only does this address issues in a timely manner, it also allows leaders across the company to utilize information and set strategic KPIs from the data to avoid future issues. At VF, this health and safety reporting is conducted in real time and is 100% actionable, driven by associates in over 170 countries. To increase the quality of reporting, VF provides extensive and continuous education to help associates understand what and where risks exist and how to be safe. This education starts with our global supply chain leaders, and they are responsible for setting expectations down the line, empower those conversations, and emphasizing how important it is that each associate does their part. Being transparent at VF means zero tolerance for retaliation in any way, as we enforce reporting by closing communication gaps and letting associates know the impact of their specific report on their colleagues.
Health & Safety Month is a time for reflection. The past two years have reinforced the importance of embedding a safety culture. While we continue to commit the same level of focus on health and safety throughout the year, it is a good time to acknowledge what we have learned over the past year and reflect on key learnings that will help support decision making for the upcoming year and beyond. At VF, we are proud to continue to adhere to our core values of being a people-focused company every day.