As we continue our series on the Woman Behind the Title, we’re excited to share a third woman based out of Calgary, Alberta.
Starting her journey at the University of Alberta in the Occupational Health and Safety program, she immediately felt a powerful connection to a career that would allow her to support the health and wellness of the people within her organization.
She began her career in the energy sector, growing through the ranks at multiple organizations from an HSE Administrator to an HSE Manager. From the beginning of her career, she believed strongly that a thriving health and safety system requires strong leadership, a clear culture, and the trust in management that comes from consistent support and development of employees.
These beliefs have been affirmed throughout her career in corporate health and safety, and led her to co-found Corpora, a firm supporting its clients by creating empowered and engaged employees endeared to the objectives of their organization.
Who is this remarkable trailblazer? Sheri Benson. As you continue to read, you’ll find health and safety is much more than just a job to her. Like many of her peers, Sheri has a strong connection to the health and safety industry as it hit home. She continues to drive positive change and be the change agent we all need in our safety programs.
We encourage you and your team to recognize women like Sheri. They aren’t as rare as you may think. They are forces to be reckoned with and they inspire each and every one of us.
Nominate someone like Sheri in your workplace, today. Not tomorrow, not next week, not next month. Take action to recognize women in our industry who are just like Sheri.
For more information and to nominate an inspirational female leader: Women in EHS Award
Nominations are due September 25th, 2019.
Raphaela: How did you get started in the safety world?
Sheri: My safety journey began 7 years ago when I came across the Occupational Health and Safety program offered through the University of Alberta. As I read through the program and did research on the field, I felt a strong sense of connection. My father had been involved in a workplace injury, years prior, and my brother was working in the oil and gas industry, so safety fell very near and dear to my heart.
Working with people and supporting their health and wellness has always been a passion of mine and finding a career where I had the opportunity to serve, coach and mentor was a perfect fit. Knowing I would make a difference in others’ lives solidified my decision to embark on this journey.
Raphaela: What has been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
Sheri: One of the biggest obstacles has been driving positive and pro-active culture change, particularly through changes brought on by the downturn. Navigating cost reductions, acquisitions, numerous organizational structure shifts, and facility closures has been a difficult task. In the process, many companies have adopted a “do more with less” approach to operations, automating processes and training programs.
However, automation of the safety management system removes an integral element – human relationship. A healthy safety culture can only be achieved when employees trust the integrity of their leadership and their safety system, and feel included, heard and valued. This requires commitment and personal involvement from all levels of the organization. When the company’s values, goals and mission are not visibly embodied in day to day operations, the safety culture and trust in leadership that form the foundation of the health, growth, success and performance of the team erode.