Note 6: Capable, engaged people

Suppliers and sourcing

A fundamental requirement of our strategy is to work together with our suppliers in order to create a sustainable supply base and deliver customer benefits, as well as improving resource efficiency. This means that we have to collaborate 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. See also the examples in Note 5 under Bio-based raw materials.

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 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 both current and new employees through a company level e-learning program. This is supported by communication through newsletters, webinars and videos. Our learning and development specialists are also working to embed the sustainability agenda in all company-level programs in the AkzoNobel Academy.

The focus for 2015 was on our leadership programs. In addition, a number of functional-specific programs are being developed for roll-out in 2016, for example in Procurement and Human Resources. We continued to drive employee engagement through our Planet Possible sustainability agenda. A webinar was held for all employees to understand more about our number one position on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

The Business Areas also have their own programs. For example, our Decorative Paints business has progressed with its two-year engagement plan, where the focus is on the key global priorities for driving our sustainability ambitions. Employees are also actively involved at their work locations through local Green Teams and community activities around the world.

More information about our employee KPIs and management processes is included in Note 12.

Customer engagement

End–users and customers are continuously asking for products and solutions that will meet their current and future needs and help make their business more sustainable. In many cases, we work closely with them to deliver breakthrough solutions that offer downstream sustainability benefits, while also providing economic value to all parties in the value chain. These collaborations can range from smart product choices and logistics solutions to complete, long-term innovation programs, often involving academic partners and government institutes.

We are continuing to integrate Planet Possible conversations with customers into the learning and development curricula for our sales and marketing teams. The Planet Possible marketing toolkit for both professional and consumer brands is actively used within our Decorative Paints business. In Specialty Chemicals, a dedicated sustainability training module and toolkit has been developed and tested.

Further details about our work with customers are included in the case studies and the Strategic performance section of this Report 2015.

Eco-premium solutions (EPS)

A measure of the eco-efficiency of our products. An eco-premium solution is significantly better than competing offers in the market in at least one eco-efficiency criterion (toxicity, energy use, use of natural resources/raw materials, emissions and waste, land use, risks, health and well-being), and not significantly worse in any other criteria.