Executive Commentary
Creating a Culture of Caring during National Safety Month
Marten Stenfors
Marten Stenfors
Head of Safety, Sodexo North America

Every day, I see incidents and injuries around me waiting to happen. Maybe I’m clairvoyant. Or perhaps I have a heightened sense of awareness because I lead the North American Safety team for a global organization.

National Safety MonthBut I’ll let you in on a little secret: it’s really not that complicated to improve safety. It’s the simple things we do every day that can prevent injuries from happening. June is National Safety Month and the perfect time to focus on safety at home, at work and everywhere in between.

Recently, one of my safety colleagues shared a story about safety at home. His little boy spilled his drink on the kitchen floor when no one was looking. Instead of cleaning it up, he placed a caution sign on the floor giving fair warning to the rest of the family. Nice idea, but the real answer should have been to clean up his spill before he ran outside to play. That was an injury waiting to happen.

Our managers conduct safety talks every day at work, but that morning, his dad had his first safety talk of the day at home. He reminded him that it’s his job to keep everyone around him safe, and that responsibility stays with you everywhere you go.

At work, especially for our operations teams who work on college campuses, in school buildings, hospital and corporate offices, we are committed to keeping our employees and customers safe. We know that one of the best ways to prevent slips, trips and falls is to clean up spills when they happen. It’s simple—but safety takes time and it’s easy to skip a step and put others at risk.

Our focus on safety extends into the communities where we live and work. Every day, we have the opportunity to protect and save lives. Let’s use the spill example. If you are in a public space, like a store or a restaurant, and there is a spill, your first instinct should be to secure the area and get help to clean it up. Shouldn’t you try to keep everyone around you safe, even if it’s not your spill?

What we’re really talking about is creating a culture of caring where each of us takes on the responsibility for keeping everyone around us safe.  Most people are mindful of their own safety. It’s also natural to want to keep those you love safe. But shouldn’t we take that one step further and try to keep as many people as safe as possible? What if we raise the next generation to think that way? Imagine the ripple effect we could have. That’s a great goal to have for National Safety Month and beyond.

At Sodexo, we are a people-centered organization. Our mission is to improve Quality of Life for the people we serve: our employees, customers and clients.  By creating a culture of caring in our organization, and taking responsibility for everyone around us, we will reach our goal of Zero Harm. It’s that simple.

As a global organization, Sodexo provides services in 80 countries. The best part about creating a safety culture is that it applies to every country, culture and language. Caring for people is a passion that crosses all boundaries and unites us around the world.


What are you doing during National Safety Month and year round to create a safety culture?


Mårten Stenfors is Head of Safety for Sodexo North America where he is responsible for leading the Quality Assurance, Food Safety and Environment, Health and Safety teams to drive a safe environment for Sodexo employees and clients. Sodexo is the 18th largest employer in the world and the leader in delivering integrated facilities management, foodservice operations and recognition programs in 80 countries. Sodexo’s 420,000 employees provide more than 100 unique services that improve performance for client partners and improve Quality of Life for 75 million consumers every day.

4 comments on “Creating a Culture of Caring during National Safety Month

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    Robin Power says:

    As a Safety Professional – I always “Lead by Example” and never take shortcuts where Safety is a concern!

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    Mike Muzychenko says:

    What a great message to start off National Safety Month. It can be intimidating at first to think about addressing (or being addressed by) a colleague, or a stranger, when you see that person putting themselves in harms way. If you address that person or situation in an “I care about your safety” way it is hard for them to say anything else but thank you. Always speak to the consequences, “I am concerned that you might…” it is about the action, not the person. Yes, some people will get upset when you bring up a safety concern, but don’t let that stop you.

    I am reminded of a poem titled “I could have saved a life today, but I choose to look the other way.” In the poem, an employee sees a co-worker doing something unsafe, and instead of saying something, for fear of upsetting that person, they “looked the other way” and that employee died as a result of the injuries sustained doing the unsafe practice.

    Don’t look the other way, say something. That person, their family, and the people that depend on them will appreciate it.

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    Christine Knight says:

    “Creating a culture of caring” benefits everyone in the workplace. In addition to improving safety, the focus on the well-being of those around us improves teamwork, customer service, profitability and quality of life. It is critical to set the right leadership example by taking the time to show concern for everyone on the team, to let each person know they are respected and valued.

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    Vincent Cheg Nche says:

    What a great insight Marten!

    Creating a safety culture of caring and of zero harm during this month and always really starts with me and involves the participation of everyone in our team, irrespective of roles to sustain it. A people oriented culture where
    – workers and supervisors have the information they need to work safely
    – Employees are always involved in decision affecting their health and safety
    – those in charge of safety have the authority they have identified as necessary
    -Those who act safely receive recognition
    – Everyone has the tools and /or equipment they need to complete their work safely


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