Making a Solid Business Case for Your Leadership

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When was the last time you needed management buy-in to change existing processes to reduce or eliminate risks? To gain leadership support, it’s crucial for Occupational and Environmental Health and Safety (OEHS) professionals to develop relationships with internal stakeholders and align with corporate goals. We know that this can be challenging, which is why we’re excited to bring you a brand new course: PDC 802: Selling IH Improvements to Management — Regulations Are Not Enough.

With three decades of experience in health and safety, Eltaneice Bolden, CIH, CHMM, has been working with dedicated safety and industrial hygiene professionals to implement systems and process improvements around the globe, as she says, “to help ensure that our workforce is protected from any potentially harmful exposures while still producing a high quality product.”

Bolden has been with General Motors for the past 23 years, currently leading their Global Industrial Hygiene Process. We caught up with Bolden to learn more about her background, the new course, and her thoughts about the future of our industry.

AIHA: What’s your experience and involvement with AIHA and AIHce?

Bolden: I have been a member of AIHA since 1992 and attended many conferences over the years. Early in my career I was active on several committees, but as my family grew I had to give up that level of involvement. I have recently started to work on several committees and SIGs again, including the Women in IH and Leadership Committees. Most recently I was appointed to the AIHA International Advisory Group. I am really excited to have the opportunity to be more engaged in the organization again.

AIHA: How long have you been teaching PDC 802?

Bolden: This is a new course, based on our experiences in implementing changes to reduce occupational exposures at General Motors, as our company has been evolving its safety culture. We at General Motors are very familiar with cultures that are strongly driven by regulations and others that are far more proactive. I think we will bring a lot of practical experience to the discussion.

I will be teaching this class with my longtime friend and colleague, Graham Parr, CIH, CHMM. Between us we have 50 years’ experience in industrial hygiene and safety. We will be sharing our experiences in successfully selling process changes as the General Motors’ safety culture has evolved over those years.


In almost every enterprise, managem​ent is under pressure to see a return on investment and to continuously i​mprove productivity.​


AIHA: Who should be taking this course?

Bolden: I think any mid-career IH professional who has faced challenges in trying to get exposures reduced or eliminated without being able to point to a compliance or other legal requirement would benefit from this course.

AIHA: What kind of hands-on practice can participants expect during the course?

Bolden: In the afternoon we will be breaking into small groups to work through the process of developing a persuasive business case using the AIHA Body of Knowledge (BOK) on Business Value Presentation as a guide. We have invited experienced leaders to serve as an expert panel to review the presentations and provide feedback to the participants. We will be asking the participants to bring an issue that they would like to share and begin to develop an initial business case to take back with them.

AIHA: What’s the biggest challenge to selling IH improvements to management? And how does this vary depending on the kind of organization?

Bolden: In almost every enterprise, management is under pressure to see a return on investment and to continuously improve productivity. The reduction in employee illness due to money spent on industrial hygiene is not immediate, and at times a process change may appear to even reduce productivity. It can be difficult to actually see the improvements in the short term; this goes back to the basic problem of the fact that the long-term negative effects of chemical exposure are often unseen for a number of years, sometimes not until a worker has left the workplace.

The challenge will vary greatly depending on where that organization falls on the Bradley Curve. Organizations that are primarily at the compliance phase can be a much harder sell than those that have reached a primarily proactive stage. But making a solid business case can result in a successful change at any organization; it’s just that some organizations may take longer and be more difficult to persuade.

AIHA: What’s something that excites you about our industry in the upcoming year?

Bolden: Hazard identification is a critical skill for both safety and industrial hygiene professionals. I think we are starting to apply a more nuanced approach to the process — applying not only traditional exposure assessment techniques but also statistical modeling as well as more sophisticated predictive analytics to prioritize health and safety risks. I think this will lead to a more effective risk reduction strategy across the board.

AIHA: Is there anything else those interested in PDC 802 should know?

Bolden: We see this course as an opportunity to share successes and failures in our efforts to eliminate and reduce exposures in our workplaces and how we have used the concepts in the BOK to improve our ability to make the case for better workplace environments.


Berrak Sarikaya is a natural conversation driver with an undeniable belief in the power of community. A proven content strategist and speaker, she resides in Seattle, WA. Follow her on Twitter.

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