Note 3: Stakeholder engagement

Our approach

The aim of our stakeholder engagement is to learn from key financial, social and environmental stakeholder groups and in collaboration to develop leading sustainability solutions relevant to:

  • Our stakeholder needs
  • Implementation of strategic targets
  • Management of risks and opportunities

Our key stakeholders are employees, customers, suppliers, investors, communities, specific sustainability/research organizations and NGOs. This section includes some highlights. More details can be found on our website and in the Strategy section and other chapters of this Report 2013:

Stakeholder engagement in 2013

Our stakeholder engagement activities are linked to our sustainability and business strategy, because becoming radically resource efficient is a huge challenge which we can’t accomplish alone. Investing in strategic, ongoing dialog and partnering with our key stakeholders is an important driver for realizing our targets.

In 2013, we launched a new concept which captures the essence of the company’s strategy to deliver more value from fewer resources. Known as Planet Possible, it’s not only designed to help drive innovation and promote radical efficiency, but will also inspire employees, customers and suppliers and build on AkzoNobel’s consistently high ranking on the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices.

Our commitment and primary partners

We support a number of charters and external organizations to demonstrate our commitment to sustainability issues. These include the UN Global Compact – we are an active member of the Global Compact Netherlands Network and a signatory of the Caring for Climate platform – the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the key conventions of the International Labor Organization; the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises; the Responsible Care® Global Charter; and the CEO Water Mandate, where we are represented on the steering group. In order to contribute to, and keep up to date with, important developments in sustainability, we participate in meetings and task forces as a member of organizations including the WBCSD, Forum for the Future, True Price and the Dutch Sustainable Growth Coalition.

Customers and products

Our customers are increasingly looking for products and solutions that will make their business more sustainable. In order to continuously improve our product offering, we encourage customers to challenge us and work together with us on this. There are many specific examples in the various case studies and the Business performance section of this Report 2013. In addition, we are in the process of improving our methods to monitor customer engagement and customer satisfaction. This activity will be further developed in 2014.

We have some notable NGO partnerships linked to product areas, such as Ferrazone, a bioavailable iron source to fight global anemia. Through the Amsterdam Initiative on Malnutrition (AIM), the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and the project Smarter Futures, our Ferrazone iron fortificant is making an important contribution to the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations. In 2013, approximately 25 million people benefited from programs to fortify staple foods with Ferrazone, for example in Africa, Asia and food aid in refugee camps. Activities during the year included support for the AIM secretariat, as well as a QC/QA laboratory network. For this, AkzoNobel is participating in a Private Public Partnership with NGOs, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other leading companies. A particular milestone was the fortification of fish and soya sauce with Ferrazone in Cambodia.

AkzoNobel has been a strategic global partner of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) in the paint industry since 2010, which we proudly display on packaging for our wood care products. In 2013, in the middle of our five-year cooperation agreement with the FSC, we emphasized the value of our relationship during FSC’s In Good Company global conference. This year also saw increased awareness of the AkzoNobel-sponsored Smallholder Support Program with the launch of the Small Community Label Option (SCLO). We continued to raise FSC’s awareness inside, as well as outside, AkzoNobel through the widest ever geographic coverage of the FSC Friday event. As well as strengthening the link on a global level, we will also be increasing the ten active local partnerships we currently have in the Netherlands, UK, Germany, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Brazil, Russia, the Nordics, Argentina and Poland, year on year. In 2014, for example, we will look into setting up local partnerships in Belgium, South Africa and the Far East.

In addition, linked to our Pulp and Performance Chemicals business, we co-signed a leadership statement on forest certification which was issued through the WBCSD Forest Solutions Group, committing to addressing the world’s need for increased sustainable management of natural forests and plantations.

Suppliers and sourcing

Working together with suppliers is crucial to our value chain approach to sustainability. Our key supplier contracts include sustainability aspects and we held detailed discussions to identify joint development areas with some of our biggest suppliers. One specific project is a detailed review of titanium dioxide with value chain partners in order to identify joint improvement opportunities. Another project focuses on the introduction of renewable raw materials in our supply chains in collaboration with selected partners.

In 2013, AkzoNobel joined Together for Sustainability (TfS), a chemical sector initiative which is designed to create more sustainable supply chains. TfS is a collaboration founded by the Chief Procurement Officers of BASF, Bayer, Evonik, Henkel, Lanxess and Solvay and aims to build the industry’s standard for sustainable supply chains. The TfS program utilizes high quality third party sustainability assessments and audits in order to measure the supplier’s sustainability performance against a pre-defined set of industry best practice criteria.

To enhance the importance and development of sustainable value chains, we again supported the organization of the International Supply Management Congress in Amsterdam. This was a joint initiative with IDH (the Dutch Sustainable Trade Initiative), PwC, NEVI (Dutch knowledge network for purchasing and supply management), Rabobank, Shell and Unilever. The event is a meeting point for sharing knowledge, experience and best practices across supply chain professionals, NGOs and thought leaders. The focus for 2013 was on innovation and integration. Our CEO was the keynote speaker, presenting our sustainability approach of creating more value from fewer resources across the value chain.

Engaging employees

During 2013, we continued to engage employees from around the world on the theme of sustainability through the launch of our Planet Possible concept, which we will continue to build on during 2014. In our Decorative Paints business, employees participated in a sustainability challenge, which helped build understanding of the importance of the subject and our performance in the area, as well as stimulating teams and individuals to participate in achieving the targets. Employees are also actively involved with sustainability through local Green Teams and community activities around the world.

Energy and climate

Our renewable energy strategy is focused on making a clear commitment to sustainable energy transition, while maintaining cost competitiveness. For our energy-intensive businesses, we are pursuing opportunities to participate in large energy ventures. An important proof point of this strategy was the announcement of an investment in wind power in the Nordics region via the VindIn consortium in 2013.

In the field of lifecycle management, we co-chair the WBCSD Chemicals Sector Working Group. Together with peers, we have developed two chemical sector guidelines to drive consistent and comparable reporting of both the environmental footprint of chemical products and carbon avoided emissions. This is the first time that a group of companies has developed a consensus approach on these topics. It is a global effort which also involved relevant stakeholders in the process of developing a harmonized approach toward the calculation of environmental impacts along the value chain.

Developing good practice

We demonstrate commitment to protecting our planet and embracing the incorporation of natural capital in our company to ensure our business is sustainable as it grows. Therefore, we continue to develop our biodiversity priorities, working with the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) business engagement network Leaders for Nature. In 2013, there was continued focus on identifying hot spots in some of our key value chains in order to identify initial areas for action.

To help us in further developing integrated reporting and transparency, AkzoNobel is one of the pilot companies for the International Integrated Reporting Council program to create a forward-looking company reporting framework. We also provide company input to the Technical Task Force. We have included the learnings from this program into this Report 2013.

Shareholders, analysts and indices

We continuously developed our engagement with shareholders on sustainability aspects by taking part in conferences and meetings during the year, as well as answering questions in telephone briefings and questionnaires. Questions during 2013 focused on financial and environmental benefits from sustainability activity and solutions for customers, raw materials supply and carbon policy, as well as safety and development and training of employees. Sustainability aspects of business are also included in many analyst and general shareholder presentations. See also the AkzoNobel on the capital markets chapter in the Governance and compliance section.

During 2013, we achieved the number one position on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index in the Materials industry group. This further builds on our good track record with DJSI, having been included in the top three for the eighth consecutive year. We continued to be included in the FTSE4Good index and took part in the Carbon Disclosure project. We were also ranked number one in the Sustainalytics benchmark for chemical companies. In the Netherlands, we achieved a number two position in the Transparency benchmark, which means we have been ranked in the top three for three consecutive years. In addition, as part of the company’s internal launch of Together for Sustainability, our sustainability performance was assessed by EcoVadis, a third party service provider for CSR assessments. We achieved a rating which places AkzoNobel among the best performing suppliers globally in our segment.