Georgetown Opens New Center with Safety Focus

March 1, 2002
The McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University opens its Center for Business and Public Policy, and Director John Mayo says that workplace safety will be a primary focus of the new organization.

The McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University announced yesterday the opening of its Center for Business and Public Policy.

At a Washington, DC press conference held to mark the occasion, John Mayo, the Center''s director and a professor of economics, said workplace safety would be the primary focus of the new organization, at least in the early going.

The center''s initiatives include:

Promoting the teaching of occupational safety in business schools throughout the country, beginning with the McDonough School, which will offer what may be the first such graduate level course later this year;

Sponsoring the second annual Safety Summit, to be held in April--the Center is itself a result of the first Summit which was held last May at the McDonough School;

Hosting seminars and conferences on occupational safety and health that will bring together academics and leaders from corporations, unions, government, and non-governmental organizations.

A key emphasis of the Center is the promotion of corporate leadership in occupational safety and health. To further this goal, the Center sponsored a workshop yesterday by Kenneth Hulik, director of global health and safety at General Motors (GM) Corp.

"Top management support for safety is not the answer," said Hulik during his presentation. "To be successful you need management actively to lead the process."

To illustrate his point, and to explain what started the change in GM''s corporate culture, Hulik explained an incident that occurred soon after Paul O''Neill, who was CEO of Alcoa at the time, joined the GM board of directors in the early 1990''s.

When O''Neill asked GM''s Jack Smith about the company''s safety and health performance, the GM CEO replied he would have his people get the answers.

"O''Neill told him,'' You''re missing the point: you need to lead your safety effort, and if you want to lead you need to know those numbers yourself,''" said Hulik.

Hulik said there are six key performance metrics that are used quarterly to evaluate every facility in GM''s worldwide operations. Safety is now one of them.

by James Nash

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