Changing Organizational Culture

Perhaps the most challenging aspect facing the organizations represented was instituting new management systems that required major change in their internal culture, away from compliance-based reporting and toward more active environmental stewardship. Outreach, education, and training are critical elements in making these programs successful because changing the culture requires analysis of how things were done in the past and what was wrong with that approach, as well as why the new system is better. It also means establishing performance measures to facilitate change.

One public agency has a number of EMS-related education programs under way. It is providing training and sharing information through the publication of fact sheets. An EMS topical committee is being established to disseminate information and provide a forum for discussion. Technical assistance has been provided to a few agency sites and a World Wide Web site has been developed.

To shift from environmental compliance to proactive environmental protection and prevention of pollution, organizations must involve all of their employees, build an infrastructure to support them in taking responsibility for the environmental aspects of their jobs, and educate them about environmental issues. One key to the successful implementation of ISO 14001 or another EMS is that these systems require people to get involved at all levels of the organization, from the top management down. Individual responsibility and accountability at the employee level is emphasized.


ISO (International Organization for Standardization). 1996. ISO 14001: Environmental Management Systems—Specification with Guidance for Use, No. ISO 1996 (E). Geneva, Switzerland: ISO.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement