Informa Markets

Author Bio ▼

Charlotte Geoghegan is Event Manager for Safety & Health Expo and SHP at Informa Markets. She is responsible for content, strategy and sales of physical events and digital products. She is also an active member of the Women in Health and Safety committee.Before Charlotte went into this role she was Head of Content for the Safety & Health Expo, SHP, IFSEC, FIREX and the Facilities Show. She joined Informa (previously UBM) in 2015.Charlotte has spent 10 years in media & events and her academic background is in modern foreign languages. You can find her on LinkedIn here
July 15, 2022

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‘We’re gradually but radically changing how colleagues feel about safety’: L’Oréal’s Global VP of Health & Safety on leadership

SHP caught up with Malc Staves, L’Oreal’s Global Vice President of Health & Safety. In the interview, Malc discusses safety at L’Oréal, his take on leadership, and some initiatives which are making employees, as well as local communities, safer. Malc will be speaking at EHS Congress 2022, taking place in Berlin from 13-14 September.

You’re a director of health and safety, yet you don’t like to talk about ‘safety leadership’. Why not?

Malc StavesMalc Staves (MS): “The term ‘safety leadership’ is limiting. I prefer ‘leadership’ because people who are responsible for safety aren’t restricted to health and safety teams; they’re people working across all domains. Therefore, leadership in safety is actually about application of leadership in all parts of the business. Where there’s good leadership, people talk about safety, not just productivity.”

You look to create leaders and safety champions in all teams, at all levels across the business – how do you do that?

MS: “First, you need to know that it’s not something that happens overnight. It needs a strategy and an action plan, and it should be taken one step at a time ensuring that each step is effectively implemented.

“If you take an old-fashioned type of company where safety is run by a safety department, where management are not involved, your first step might be to get your line management to be more visibly involved in safety. Safety should be driven by management and supported by EHS, not the other way around. For us, that means our site directors are particularly important.

“Once your line management are visibly involved it’s important to put tools and methods in place to promote individuals taking the lead.

“When that’s happening, every positive action can encourage another and it becomes self-perpetuating. I call it the hummingbird theory. See How L’Oreal improved safety performance by 70%’ for more about Malc Staves’ hummingbird theory. The ultimate goal is everybody takes the lead in safety.”

Can you give any examples of initiatives that actively get individuals involved in safety at L’Oréal?

MS: “We have community of 700 people in EHS on Yammer (an internal enterprise social networking service) where people from around the world share what they do regularly. This is probably the most active community within L’Oréal, in fact. To encourage people to keep sharing, we (the EHS team) like and comment on every single thing that is posted.

“Recently a site in US posted a video about ‘why safety is important to me’. I downloaded it from Yammer and showed it to senior management in a training course – they loved it. Then I went back on Yammer and shared that positive feedback.

“Another initiative which works well is our end of the year ‘the best of’ series, where sites send us examples of what they’ve been doing to promote safety and in particular linked to our Safe@Work-Safe@Home initiative.

“On World Health & Safety Day, we celebrate safety and there’s a major focus on it across the business.

“I have a great team who live, breath and eat health & safety. They are all passionate individuals that are great leaders in particular domains of expertise. I am proud to have them in my team.”

What’s the biggest cause of accidents at L’Oréal?

MS: “Sales and stores are where most of our accidents occur, and we’ve found it’s usually when people make the wrong decision at the wrong time; rather than being a result of technical faults or engineering problems. Accidents tend to happen when people are distracted or not seeing the risk. Safety is conversational and individual, which you can’t always cover in risk assessments.”

How do you mitigate those risks when they aren’t so black and white?

MS: “If we can get people to think about why safety is important, that makes a big difference. The reason we all work safely is we want to live good lives, in and outside of work, we want to spend time with families. We need people to realise and remember that as it gives sense to “why I should work safely”.

“With that in mind, we launched the programme ‘Safe@Work, Safe@Home’, with the goal of making safety more simplistic and relevant to individuals. We do this by associating the sense of safety to families and the fact that we should all work safely so that we can spend time with famlilies outside of work. A person who has had a serious injury may have their quality of family life impacted. We set off with no roadmap, no method statement and no set tools. And it went viral. We’re not naive enough to say it’s working everywhere in the world, but it has certainly captured many hearts and minds and its gaining momentum day after day.”

What does L’Oréal do to encourage safety ‘at home’, or outside the workplace?

MS: “One example is in our department offered everybody Red Cross first aid training. It’s not so they can use it at work (because you have to be authorised to do so at work), but because you never know in life when someone is going to need it. Can you imagine if a son or daughter was chocking and you didn’t know how to react?! It’s just unthinkable.

“We also have employees; I like to call them Safety Ambassadors, who, as an example, go out educating local communities about safety. They go in to schools, tell children about why safety is important, and make them more aware of risks and what can be done. It’s important to adapt this to what makes sense to the children and, above all, it has to be fun! And the safety ambassadors aren’t just people in the EHS teams – anyone can get involved.”

How does making local communities safer help L’Oréal?

MS: “Firstly, making the communities we live in safer makes people proud to work for L’Oréal. That feels good. Secondly, it has an impact on people when they’re working. We’re gradually but radically changing how colleagues feel about safety, and therefore how they ‘do’ safety. You can’t just tell people they need to ‘get safety’ and expect it to be immediate. It’s a journey with no end, where we evolve culture and mindset.”

Tell us about the work you have done with RoSPA to promote safety at home.

MS: “L’Oréal and RoSPA partnered up to create the new worldwide  Safe@Work, Safe@Home Award. It’s part of RoSPA’s wider awards programme and has been designed to recognise companies who have demonstrated innovation in promoting safety outside the workplace. We spend so much effort driving down accidents in the workplace, yet there are a lot more accidents and fatalities outside work. This award is about recognising that, doing the right thing and building a community of like-minded companies. RoSPA have over 100 years of experience in reducing fatalities and injuries outside of work. This partnership is about leveraging this experience with L’Oréal’s reach across the world and making a difference somewhere to somebody.

More information, including how to enter the Safe@Work, Safe@Home Award on the RoSPA site here.

“RoSPA have also been helping us develop internal campaigns to raise awareness. I’ve been working with Becky Hickman at RoSPA and she’s amazing.”

You will be bringing this story to life, with a case study session at EHS Congress in Berlin in September. What can attending delegates expect from your session?

MS: “Attendees will get an understanding of how through such an initiative they can get each individual in their organisation to understand the “sense of purpose” or the “why” of safety!

“The program aims to extend our safety culture and mind set beyond the gates of L’Oréal into our families, friends, local communities and other companies. When it comes to health, safety and well being there is no competition, just people! Sharing is caring!

“It’s taken 10 years to get managers really driving safety, and we aren’t done yet. We’re continually building on what’s working and there’s a lot more we want to do, including sharing our passion and commitment in safety both within and outside of L’Oréal.”

Hear more from Malc Staves at the 2022 EHS Congress, taking place in Berlin from 13-14 September. His session, ‘L’Oréal Case Study: From LIFE to Safe@Work-Safe@Home through “the right tool at the right time”‘ takes place on Day one of the conference.

Click to register for your place and to see the full EHS Congress agenda.

Click here for more from EHS Congress on SHP. 

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Clinton Horn
Clinton Horn
5 years ago

Interesting read Malc Staves. Thanks for sharing. “Sales and stores are where most of our accidents occur, and we’ve found it’s usually when people make the wrong decision at the wrong time; rather than being a result of technical faults or engineering problems.” Can I suggest that safety systems are not safe in or of themselves. Instead, all their (systems) good intentions are under constant “attack” by the dynamic nature of risk factors, variability and any mismatch between the demands of the job, as experienced by operational workers, at that specific point in time and the capacities necessary to meet… Read more »

5 years ago
Reply to  Clinton Horn

Hi Clinton, my view is that we need both. However systems need to be adapted to local culture as well as to where a site is in its culture journey. I also believe that choice architecture or nudge theory comes into play here as well as making safety personal for each and everyone. Let’s not forget visible leadership either. As you know it’s not an easy challenge and I would agree that rigid, non flexible management systems are in the past.