Designing the optimal environment, health and safety (EHS) and sustainability organization is a complicated equation, but according to a new report by the National Association for Environmental Management (NAEM), more than a third of responding companies combine these functions at the corporate level.

Based on a survey of 193 companies from across industry sectors, NAEM’s 2016 Staffing, Structure and Budgets report reveals that 59 percent of companies are managing EHS as a combined function at the corporate level; 32 percent now have a function that combines EHS with sustainability.

‘Stand-alone sustainability’ functions are also common at the corporate level, with 28 percent of responding companies assigning activities such as goal-setting, carbon disclosure and lifecycle analysis to a dedicated department.

NAEM Executive Director Carol Singer Neuvelt said the association’s series of reports on the management of the function is a unique contribution to those responsible for designing EHS organizations, creating staffing plans and establishing annual budgets.

“When you’re a corporate EHS&S leader, you’re not only responsible for creating a vision, setting priorities and advancing programs, but you’re also called upon to ensure that your function has the resources it needs to be effective,” she said. “This report is designed to help companies decide what size and composition of EHS&S staff is right for them.”

Analyzed with input from an advisory committee of NAEM members, the results offer insights EHS&S leaders can use to inform decisions on reorganizing after a merger or acquisition, evaluating staffing levels, assigning responsibilities and establishing annual budgets. The full results provide more than 70 detailed charts on: the variation in organizational structures; staffing levels by company size, risk and headcount; and the activities where EHS and sustainability leads, collaborates and participates.