Corporate Responsibility »
A message from Nish Vartanian, President and CEO
Fit for the Future
Social responsibility is not new to MSA—it’s been at the heart of our mission since 1914. We are, after all, a company solely dedicated to helping protect the world’s workers. So when the pandemic hit, our top priority was to ensure the safety of our associates who continued to report to our facilities each day. Together, we provided safety products to critical industries, including first responders, energy providers, utilities, transportation, food manufacturing, and pharmaceuticals so they, in turn, could continue to operate safely. And while 2020 brought with it many lessons — more than I can recount here — I’d like to focus on a few themes that resonated with me over the past year.
First, the importance of worker safety has never been more apparent. We saw humanity embrace efforts to keep essential workers safe. Terms like “PPE,” known widely in industry, quickly became a part of everyday conversation. And we also gained a new appreciation for the connectedness of our global economy.
In essence, the pandemic illuminated what we have always known at MSA — that worker safety is inseparably linked to community health, and, ultimately, our global economic wellbeing. As “The Safety Company,” we know this a tremendous responsibility. But it’s that responsibility that inspires us to develop new-to-world technologies that help enable our customers to return home safely each night. That’s who we are. That’s what we do.
Second, it’s even more apparent today that many issues traditionally associated with “corporate social responsibility” are truly issues of corporate strategy. In my 2020 Annual Letter to Shareholders, I noted that our investments in worker safety, talent, environmental sustainability, and supply chain resiliency all help to create a better business model. This is something I believe deeply. The companies who do these things consistently well are going to be the ones who succeed — the ones that are fit for the future.
In 2021, we continue to make strategic investments in each of these areas. As an example, we’re undertaking a stakeholder materiality assessment to help increase transparency on how we prioritize and advance our key social and sustainability commitments. We’re also refreshing our diversity & inclusion strategy, and we’re developing a long-term climate risk strategy.
Why focus on these areas? On talent development and diversity & inclusion, we’re keenly aware that attracting and retaining a quality workforce through sustainable talent pipelines is one of the top business challenges for any organization today, and particularly for manufacturing companies, who are expected to have 2.1 million unfilled jobs by 2030.1 Simply put, we can’t make great products without great people. More broadly speaking, safety unites us. And while we’re focused on a single mission, we cannot be single-minded. An openness to individuality — where diverse people and ideas are welcome — will be at the heart of our success in the coming years. That’s because we know that our people are as unique and innovative as the products we create. Those very differences can make all the difference as we design safety solutions fit for the diverse needs of workers in dozens of countries, industries, and applications.
On sustainability, we recognize that in the coming decades every company’s business model will be affected by climate risk and the global efforts to address it. We have a part to play in this effort as well. For that reason, we’re developing a climate risk strategy, informed by standards set by the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures. And while our operations include light manufacturing and assembly, we continue to build the necessary internal infrastructure to measure and reduce our global carbon footprint, as our sustainability teams make improvements in areas such as supply chain, logistics, packaging, and recycling. Lastly, we’re working to incorporate sustainability principles into our new product development processes and to ensure that our market-leading safety technologies meet the needs of diversified, well-balanced energy end markets.
Finally, we’re continuing to enhance a variety of risk oversight and business continuity programs to address both traditional and non-traditional risks. In addition to the efforts above, this includes enhancements to crisis and enterprise risk management programs, cyber and data governance strategies, business ethics and code of conduct trainings, and more. We also recognize the need for robust supply chain management, so for our top suppliers, we’re deepening our review of risk and resiliency indicators. Without reservation, I’ll say that these programs will always be “works in progress,” as they must continuously transform to meet the moment. Together, these efforts help us to build greater resiliency and adaptability into our overall business model, to help safeguard the value that we create for MSA’s many stakeholders. These are just some of the many investments we’re making this year to be fit for the future, as we go forward into a world that is increasingly interconnected.
In closing, I’d like to express my gratitude to our entire MSA team, which stayed focused on our mission, our people, and our customers, and communities. In a world that’s forever changed, I’m enthusiastic about the investments we’re making this year to be an organization that is truly fit for the future. I’m also optimistic about our outlook — not only for MSA as an organization, but for our world in general. Certainly, there are challenges ahead, but there’s also a tremendous opportunity to harness these times to collectively build the future world in which we want to live. At MSA, that means creating long-term value for all of our stakeholders, building a better business model which in turn will continue to deliver returns for shareholders. And at a time when the importance of worker safety has never been more apparent, we stand ready to help others as they too build safer, thriving organizations for safer tomorrows.
Chairman, President and CEO