Corporate Social Responsibility: Letter from the CEO

Corporate Responsibility »

A message from Nish Vartanian, President and CEO

Making MSA Fit for the Future

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is at the heart of what we do at MSA – our mission is to keep the world’s workers safe every day so they may return home to their families and communities. As I reflect on 2021, I’m enthusiastic about both our vision for the future of worker safety and the next steps in our CSR journey.

That’s because I truly believe that we each have a tremendous opportunity to harness these times to build the future world in which we want to live. I cannot think of any other recent point in time when a person or a group could more readily drive positive societal impact. Businesses have shown that we can be a force for good in these challenging times. And when we keep our people and our mission top of mind, at MSA, I know that we can make an impact that ripples throughout our communities and beyond.

Those of you who know MSA know how committed we are to our mission – you know that we live “purpose at work” each and every day. What’s more, today’s modern company can provide not only a purpose but also a platform – a platform where the ideas of just a few can be brought to life to address the needs of many. That’s why we want our associates to know that they’re not just one person. If they have a ground-breaking idea for the future of worker safety, they have a powerful platform to marshal the resources of a worldwide company to make it happen.

That’s why we continue to make investments in products, solutions, and services that reimagine the next generation of worker safety. We also continue to develop our programs around environmental sustainability and talent, as well as various risk reduction programs, such as building supply chain resiliency. To underscore the emphasis, we incorporated an ESG-linked pricing structure in the refinancing of our credit facility. The companies that consistently improve in these areas are the ones I believe will have the greatest level of success going forward, because each of these programs help us to build a better, more resilient business model.

In 2021, we made progress against our goals and continued to make strategic investments in each of these areas as well as set the course to achieve ambitious future aspirations. To guide the way, we completed our first-ever assessment to understand the priorities of internal and external stakeholders, which will be a key input to our strategy moving forward.

We heard from you that our top CSR attribute is the very work we do – continuing to deliver innovation in next-generation worker safety. That’s just one of the reasons that we were enthusiastic about our 2021 acquisition of Bacharach and its suite of refrigerant detection products, helping to protect the environment by quickly detecting refrigerant leaks. We’re also enthusiastic about our launch of the V-Gard® C1 hard hat, an industrial helmet to help keep workers cool while working in sunny environments, given that heat stress is an increasingly important safety issue for workers in warmer climates.

In addition, we have been busy building out our connected worker and connected firefighter ecosystems. These cloudconnected platforms combine hardware and software to enable increased situational awareness and data driven insight that allow our customers to make more informed decisions rapidly.

We’re attuned to the fact that safety problems increasingly intersect with matters like worker health and wellness, sustainability, and situational safety awareness. So, to further amplify our new product development processes, we’re working to incorporate sustainability and social principles into our new product development approach to ensure that our market-leading safety technologies meet the needs of a diverse global workforce and a world that is increasingly focused on addressing the impacts of climate risk. For the world’s workers, that includes thinking deeply about the many populations that we serve to ensure that we’re inclusive with our sizes, fits, and designs – just like MSA Globe invented the industry’s first turnout gear specifically fit for women.

On sustainability, we recognize that in the coming decades every company’s business model will be affected by global efforts to address climate risk, and we have a part to play as well. In addition to our new product development efforts, our teams are making progress on identifying meaningful longerterm carbon reduction goals, as well as adopting a climate risk strategy.

In the same vein, we are working to incorporate sustainability and social principles into our day-to-day operations through the efforts of global sustainability steering teams. This includes reimagining our product packaging, implementing waste reduction programs, and engaging with our supply chain teams to identify low-impact transportation options.

Of course, we also recognize that innovation is linked to our ability to inclusively attract and develop talent. We can’t make great products without great people. So, while we’re focused on a single mission, we cannot be single-minded.

MSA welcomes a wide variety of people, thoughts, ideas, and experiences. This diverse and inclusive mindset fosters creativity, strong performance, and a culture where people have a sense of belonging to a mission that is greater than themselves. A diverse and inclusive workplace is the foundation to our continued success, as well as that of our customers and communities.

More than ever, I know all of us are keenly aware that one of the top business challenges for any organization today is cultivating a high-caliber, engaged workforce. We also continue to offer generous tuition reimbursement and numerous upskilling programs for our current workforce globally. To enhance the talent skills programs we’ve long offered to our teams at one of our facilities focused on turnout gear, this year we also developed a tuition reimbursement program for young adults just leaving high school. Recent graduates who work at MSA while attending school can earn up to 100% tuition reimbursement. In another new program, we are providing transportation, training, and translators for refugees to work as manufacturing associates at that location while learning new skills. These are just a few examples of how we’ve been thinking differently about attracting and investing in talent.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our effort to address critical sourcing scarcities. As the global supply chain continues to face never-before-seen challenges, we recognize the need to ensure supply chain resiliency so that we can continue to deliver safety products where and when our customers need them. Among other things, we’ve invested in artificial intelligence software that will increase transparency and communication with our supply chain. This software gives lines of sight to our MissionOps team on potential material shortages and helps to prioritize the focus for our purchasing organization and suppliers. It also increases visibility by helping to compile metrics for delivery, quality, and cost metrics which aid in our supplier review process. Finally, this software enables a greater level of transparency for our suppliers by enabling real-time forecasting for more efficient communication and alignment around business goals.

We do all of this because at MSA, we know what’s at stake. We take those words to heart. And it’s that passion that inspires our people to design, develop, and manufacture the world’s best safety solutions that protect the people who put their trust in the MSA brand.

Nish Vartanian
Chairman, President and CEO

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