More Than Safety: Empowering Our Team

This is Part 5 of an 8-part series on OrthoLite’s EHS program: a premier initiative in the footwear industry for safety, empowerment, and social responsibility. See end of this article for links to more posts.

Individual empowerment is a cornerstone of OrthoLite’s global Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) program.

What does it mean to empower the individuals on our team?

In the context of running a company with over 3,300 employees across six countries, it means providing employees with the tools they need to be successful in their jobs and careers. It means establishing a culture where every individual is valued as part of our shared success.

As it relates to our EHS program, individual empowerment is a value that shapes how we interact with one another. It’s based on respect for our fellow employees and for the collective of cultures and communities around the world where we operate. It’s based on the Golden Rule of treating others how we want to be treated. And it’s based on the belief that everyone can make a positive difference if allowed the opportunity.

As it relates to manufacturing, individual empowerment is about setting high expectations for product quality and turnaround times, and providing the tools and training needed in order to reach those.

OrthoLite manufacturing

How do we turn these values into action?

  • We provide training that enables people to do their jobs proficiently, and is also oriented toward career development and expansion.
  • We actively cultivate a culture where every individual is comfortable and encouraged to speak up for safety and for improvement opportunities.
    We listen. For our EHS program, we document all suggestions and the actions taken in response.
  • We provide services and educational opportunities that have benefits outside of OrthoLite-specific manufacturing, like onsite medical clinics and English languages.

OrthoLite manufacturing

Is there a strategic advantage to empowering our team?

Absolutely. The driving force of individual empowerment is how we treat one another and show respect. OrthoLite CARES is more than a slogan. Because it is authentic to who we are as leaders, our team is supported, and competitive advantages emerge.

  1. Individual empowerment is central to achieving our EHS goal of continuous improvement. Who knows a machine better than the person who operates it every day? Who better to propose relevant improvements than the people actively doing the work? We want and need to listen to what our team members have to say if we’re serious about excellence.
  2. Empowerment includes health and wellness. We offer onsite medical care to cover a need for our team members. Additionally, fewer missed days are a benefit to the company.
  3. We invest in educational and professional development courses for career-building skills. For example, we offer English language lessons at some locations. It helps open doors for ambitious individuals to chart a path for career advancement.

OrthoLite manufacturing

Our People Make it Happen

“Our factory general managers model a proactive spirit and solution-oriented leadership for our teams,” said Richard Bevan, VP of Operations for OrthoLite. “It’s really what makes this place tick!”

In our experience, most people naturally want to be part of the solution. Our foundational belief in empowerment is ultimately about providing a safe space for our team members to act on that motivation. It’s personally rewarding, and it benefits the company as well.

While leadership is ultimately responsible for ensuring a safe and supportive workplace, we find an empowered team is a more capable, more energized and more effective team.

In this post, we covered why empowering our team is a foundation of our EHS program. The next post in this EHS series will cover how EHS can influence social and environmental impacts.

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