Note 6: Capable engaged people

Suppliers and sourcing

Working with our suppliers in order to create a sustainable supply base and deliver customer benefits, as well as improving resource efficiency, is a fundamental requirement of our strategy. This means that we have to work together effectively. We have supplier management programs in place that support both performance improvement and opportunities for joint developments. One specific project focuses on the introduction of renewable raw materials in our supply chains in collaboration with selected partners.

Further information on our engagement with suppliers and the management processes is included in Note 7.

Capable engaged employees

Employees are routinely involved in delivering many aspects of our sustainability agenda, such as improving energy or resource efficiency at our sites, developing and selling eco-premium solutions to customers, managing all areas of safety and assessing the sustainability aspects of investments. We want to build on all these activities to accelerate performance against our objectives.

Awareness training to help everybody understand their contribution is available for current and new employees through a company level e-learning program, with follow-up “events” and business specific programs. Our learning and development specialists are working to embed the sustainability agenda in all company level management programs in the AkzoNobel Academy. The focus in 2014 was an updated Graduate Development Program. A number of functional specific programs have been piloted during the year, with a more structured program starting in 2015.

We continued to drive employee engagement through our Planet Possible sustainability agenda, with webinars and videos. Our Decorative Paints business has progressed with their two-year engagement plan. Using a story approach, combined with a competition, overall awareness was increased along with an understanding of the breadth of sustainability activities taking place across the organization. This approach will be extended across all other businesses in 2015. Employees are also actively involved with their work locations through local Green Teams and community activities around the world.

Further information on our employee KPIs and management processes is included in Employees and community under Note 12.

Customer engagement

Our customers are increasingly looking for products and solutions that will make their business more sustainable. In order to meet their current and future needs, we encourage customers to work with us so that we can deliver breakthrough solutions that provide a downstream sustainability benefit while delivering economic value to both parties. In our North American Wood Coatings business we have worked closely with a long-standing customer to deliver a new formaldehyde-free coating system for office furniture. It allows the customer to meet the latest indoor air quality standards while ensuring better levels of product performance compared with its previous coating system.

We are equipping our Sales and Marketing employees to initiate Planet Possible conversations with our customers. Our approach and best practice examples in the Buildings and Infrastructure end-user segment are highlighted for customers in our Planet Possible brochure. Within our Decorative Paints business, we have provided a Planet Possible marketing toolkit for both professional and consumer brands.

Further information on our work with customers is included in the case studies and the Strategic performance section of this Report 2014.