Henry Ford once said that, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

And he should know, as one of America’s foremost industrialists and innovators. Remember, he did not invent the car, but he found a way of making it an affordable product that people wanted to buy.

In fact, ‘Fordism’ became a term meaning the mass production of inexpensive goods coupled with high wages for workers.

With a focus on both quality, and lowering costs, he developed amazing strategies, including one of the first franchise systems.

Uniting the workforce

What does this have to do the ISO 14001 environmental management system? A lot, actually, as Henry Ford proved that business success depends on inspiring and uniting your workforce towards one goal.

And one of the most important steps towards environmental management system certification, is getting your employees on side. If they are engaged and passionate about helping make a difference, they will put their heart and soul into doing so, with the added bonus of creating a strong teamwork ethic.

Interestingly, managers report that once engaged, it is often the most junior staff who come up with the best ideas. By recognising that, and allowing ownership of ideas, a business can go a long way towards achieving its environmental goals.

But that doesn’t mean management can just sit back and relax! Leadership is still required, and managers must also be engaged, setting an example from the top.

Change and creativity

We talk a lot about empowerment these days, in the workplace, at home, at school. It can be a very powerful tool for change and creativity, something that is definitely required in implementing an environmental management system in Queensland.

So with your goals set, and your workforce on-side, the next step is environmental management system certification. And although it is not (yet) mandatory, there is very good reason for establishing your system now.

With our global market expanding, and organisations chasing any tool that will let them get ahead of their competitors, many are looking to up the ante by joining a major company’s supply chain, or bidding for government contracts and tenders.

Well, newsflash! You won’t achieve that without an ISO 14001 environmental management system.

Major companies and government agencies are looking very closely at the impacts they, their suppliers and their contractors have on the environment.

Environmental policy

Indeed, current environmental policy in Australia requires that government agencies develop an EMS for as many of their sites as possible.

Standards Australia has adopted the International Standards for Environmental Management Systems (ISO14001 and ISO14004) for use by Australian organisations.

The government is encouraging businesses to implement an EMS in order to reduce its negative impacts on the environment, improve its environmental performance, establish environmental objectives and goals – including the appointment of an environmental manager or team, monitor performance, and ensure continual improvement.

ISO 14001 environmental management system has recently been revised, in order to keep it current and relevant to the marketplace.

Greater focus on leadership

The key changes have increased the importance environmental management within an organisation’s strategic planning processes, with a greater focus on leadership.

Several proactive initiatives have been added to protect the environment from harm and degradation, such as sustainable resource use and climate change mitigation.

Organisations are also urged to think more long-term when considering the environmental aspects and impacts of their actions.

The introduction of a common structure has made it much easier to integrate ISO management systems, a major drawcard, as it will help businesses save time and money.

Talk to a management system consultant

Organisations certified to ISO 14001:2004 have three years to move to the new system. For further information and advice, we recommend talking to a management system consultant, such as Standard Consulting in Brisbane.

Meanwhile, let’s get back to Henry Ford. For not only was he an innovator, an astute businessman and, through paying fair wages, one of the first advocates of Fair Trading, he was also very focussed on sustainability.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that, if he were around today, he would most certainly have implemented an ISO 14001 environmental management system.

From product design to re-use of materials, Ford saw environmental and social issues as an integrated challenge – with an integrated solution.

And consider this, Ford’s Model T was the first multi-fuel vehicle, running on gas, ethanol, or both. So forward-thinking was this man, that he predicted that in the future, fuel could be sourced from anything that could be fermented.

Reducing CO2

Today, Ford has a science-based strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its products and operations, and has dramatically reduced CO2 emissions from its vehicles and its facilities. It has also actively been reducing the amount of waste it sends to landfill.

In Ford we see an example of an organisation that saw the implementation of environmental management strategies as the logical extension of what it was already trying to achieve.

Let’s hope more and more organisations follow suit, and see the growing relevance of environmental management systems not only in Queensland, but nationally and globally.