Business Executives Demonstrate Leadership in Retaining the Vaccine Mandate

The coronavirus pandemic has stressed every level of society. As the business sector strived to endure the initial challenge of the lockdown, through various adjustments required to allow for a safe reengagement for workers and customers, it’s understandable that they became frustrated with the twists and turns of public health and political leadership on the issue. The recent Supreme Court ruling that overturned the Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s (OSHA) vaccine mandate for businesses with more than 100 employees, added to the frustration.

Some businesses have demonstrated leadership in retaining the vaccine mandate, even at risk of alienating workers and customers. Carhartt, the Dearborn-based construction and popular clothing company announced its intention to maintain the mandate.

Mark Valade, CEO of Carhartt, said in an email following the Supreme Court decision, that “We put workplace safety at the very top of our priority list…” It is a “core value” of his company. Public health advocates from the beginning have instituted recommendations based on promoting “safety,” and at times “error on the side of caution” regarding the pandemic. The greater good is the objective of public health.

Obviously, some people didn’t share the excitement of many when a vaccine for COVID was announced a year ago. Their reluctance to become vaccinated and observe social safety measures has contributed to the persistent spread of the disease. OSHA established its regulation in alignment with the ongoing recommendations of public health officials that workers in different employment settings become vaccinated – at no cost to themselves. Some people opted to leave their employer.

Carhartt said it maintained the mandate for workplace safety. But it’s also good business. Healthy workers are on the job and productive. There are many examples of employers falling behind on business productivity because their workforce is ill. Generally, employers aren’t going to mandate that their workers get a flu shot or any other vaccine, even though it may prevent them from becoming ill. This, however, is a pandemic. Wise, socially responsible leaders like Valade are taking a risk, but as Valade said in his email, other risks outweighs that: “An unvaccinated workforce is both a people and a business risk that our company is unwilling to take.”

Dennis Archambault is vice president of Public Affairs for Authority Health.


Tags: , ,