2018 CEOs Who "Get It"

2018 CEOs Who Get it
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Dave Petratis

David D. Petratis

Chairman, President and CEO
Carmel, IN


  • Sparked creation of the Allegion Safety Initiative – a peer-to-peer safety program that teaches employees to incorporate safety into their everyday activities.
  • Actively involved in safety, including starting operations planning or investor meetings with safety; taking part in incident reviews, safety inspections, and EHS program reviews; and attending regional EHS meetings and site safety celebrations.
  • Engaging employees through a Shark Tank-like program called Trailblazer in which employees can develop and pitch their innovative business ideas, talking with employees about how they are living the “Be Safe, Be Healthy” value, and writing personal thank-you cards to employees.

Allegion is a global pioneer in safety and security, with leading brands such as CISA, Interflex, LCN, Schlage, SimonsVoss and Von Duprin. Focusing on security around the door and adjacent areas, Allegion produces a range of solutions for homes, businesses, schools and other institutions. The organization employs more than 9,500 workers.

Describe your personal journey to becoming a CEO who “gets it.” What experiences or lessons brought you to where you are now?

Immediately after earning my college degree, I started my career as a first-line supervisor who was responsible for the lives of 70 employees. Because of exposure, their safety was a high priority for me every single day – and safety became a fundamental value for me as a result. The truth is, if people believe their basic needs (including safety) are met, there’s more teamwork and productivity – ultimately creating the best service for both internal and external customers.

I’ve also learned many lessons during my journey from first-line supervisor to CEO. One of the most impactful in the workplace is this: When you get people focused on safety and quality, there are fewer disagreements. When teams of people work with the same goals in mind, like safe working conditions and high-quality products, there’s a shared sense of responsibility that creates cohesiveness. Whether you’re a union official, supervisor, engaged or disengaged employee, it’s pretty easy to agree that safety and quality are important goals to work toward.

In addition, employers must prioritize the condition of human capability as well as mechanical capability. Team members should go home in the same condition they are in when they walk through the doors daily. When management and leadership can send the message that they care and this is a top priority, great things will happen. If they send the opposite message – that they don’t care about safety – I believe other aspirational goals will not be achieved.

Why is safety a core value at your organization?

Again, safety is a core value for me fundamentally – but it’s also one that Allegion’s people share. Specifically, our value of “Be Safe, Be Healthy” demonstrates that our executive team members and employees around the world believe safety and health go hand in hand. The healthier we are, the better we will be able to withstand and adapt to the rigors of the job and the rigors of the day. Recognizing this and having management that cares ultimately drives success for the business.

What is the biggest obstacle to safety at your organization, and how do you work to overcome it?

One of the biggest obstacles to safety is focus. It’s not always easy to focus on safety when you’re involved in the day-to-day operations. It’s not always top of mind to think about potential hazards, including rare ones that may only happen once every 25 years. In fact, it can be very time-consuming and daunting. But, if we don’t think about these things – if we don’t take the time to focus – we aren’t truly putting safety at the top of that agenda, are we? No one at Allegion or elsewhere comes to work thinking they are going to get hurt, making it extremely important to ensure that safety is an unconscious act applied in a conscious state. If we do this on a 24/7 basis, we all will be safer.

How do you instill a sense of safety in employees on an ongoing basis?

First, as one of Allegion’s core values, we beat it like a 
drum – talking about it regularly, no matter the job at hand. That sets a cultural expectation that our team members will contribute to the safety of their work environments.

Second, we make health and safety a priority in our actions. If you look at our managements’ agendas, you’ll see safety habits like team meetings, inspections and trainings.

How does your organization measure safety? What are the leading indicators that show you how safe your organization is, and where do you see room for improvement?

As CEO, I personally have short-term, mid-term and long-term objectives around health and safety. As a company, we also benchmark Allegion with the external world and report on safety to our board of directors annually.

I believe Allegion is the safest workforce in our industry. To measure that, we consider leading and lagging indicators. Some of the leading indicators that help drive our success include:

  • “Allegion Safety Initiative” participation (a tiered, behavior-based safety program customized to our site needs)
  • Employee engagement surveys
  • Good catches (for quick EHS improvements)
  • Quantitative job safety analyses
  • EHS Kaizen participation
  • Training completion rates
  • Preventive ergonomic measurements
  • EHS touch-point discussions
  • Wellness programs at our sites

We value our team members and have management who cares, meaning that employee safety is a top priority for Allegion. We do not want our employees to experience any incidents at work, and that’s why we provide them with a variety of tools to protect themselves and others. As a continuation of that, it’s our hope that they take safety lessons home with them each day – building a “Be safe, be healthy” culture at home, too. For that reason, I’d say our focus for improvement is advancing off-the-job safety.

What role does off-the-job safety play in your organization’s overall safety program? What types of off-the-job safety and health programs does your organization offer to employees?

Allegion’s goal – and my personal desire – is to have safety be an unconscious act in which training, principals and practices are taken off the job. We know Allegion has the opportunity to keep people safe for one-third of the day. However, the true majority of the day, people are exposed to everything in the world, which likely creates many more safety concerns than those that may be faced on the job. If we can teach people to be safer and healthier no matter where they’re at, Allegion will be better because our people will be better. Our employees are the most valuable asset we have.

As CEO, I’m vocal about a variety of off-the-job issues, including texting and driving, wearing personal protective equipment and ladder safety. But Allegion, as a company, certainly offers employees access to programs and incentives that are meant to encourage their health and safety, both on the job and off the job. For example, as a part of our health care offering, our people can use a mobile application to accomplish personalized goals (like walking a certain number of steps or avoiding caffeine) and earn HSA money as a result. Across the world, our employees are also empowered to start different health and safety programs at work based on localized interests – like post-work yoga classes or emergency responder training.

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