Just Culture is a philosophy that reframes workplace justice to allow human error, prize reporting and focus on process improvement. Just Culture is used successfully in other high consequence fields like aviation, medicine, manufacturing, and nuclear power to increase efficiency and reduce potentially dangerous errors, so it made sense to see how it could apply in a field where working around and protecting wild animals is part of our every day. However, workplace safety is just one by-product of Just Culture. Just Culture also supports psychological safety and empathy at work which supports each staff member. By accepting and expecting that humans will make mistakes, we remove the shame and blame that often accompanies them. The result of this psychological safety is a new openness to discussing errors. One of the main pillars of Just Culture is eliminating punishment for honest mistakes. This means we give every person the benefit of the doubt in every situation. This is one of the places where people sometimes resist Just Culture; If we don’t punish people, how do we hold them accountable?
Emily Insalaco started her career with marine mammals and free flight birds. She was the first Curator of Behavioral Husbandry at Denver Zoo, where she has also overseen the Animal Ambassador department, and now gets the privilege to lead the entire animal care team. She’s always inspired to find ways to blend her behavior background into her people-leadership roles. When not at work, she enjoys time in the mountains and being soccer mom to her 10 year old son.
Rebecca (Becca) McCloskey has been in the zoo and animal care industry for nearly 20 years. She has worked at Denver Zoo for 13 years and is currently Curator of Carnivores. Becca is passionate about the exploring the intersection of humanity and safety processes. When not at work Becca is an avid camper, hiker, and lover of cats.