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Strategic focus

During 2008, the sustainability aspects of running our business were firmly integrated into the new AkzoNobel strategy, which sets out ambitions in the complementary areas of creating value and values to be managed in an integrated way across the business. The focus of managing sustainability has continued to develop from managing risks – working on integrity, governance and compliance – to creating opportunities for value creation in the businesses through process excellence, innovation and talent development.

Sustainability is increasingly being integrated into many aspects of our operations. We have developed a framework to demonstrate the essential relationship between all these elements, drawing on good practices from AkzoNobel and the former ICI. This framework has three levels (see chapter AkzoNobel Sustainability framework). Each includes environmental, economic and social aspects, which together map out the journey towards sustainability.

  1. Improve: continue to comply and ensure a license to operate – the foundations of how we operate as a company
  2. Manage: include sustainability in all aspects of the value chain
  3. Invent: integrate sustainable value propositions, providing long-term strategic value.

Compliance areas

The AkzoNobel Business Principles, as included in our Code of Conduct, form the foundation of how we operate as a company: our commitments and responsibilities to shareholders, employees and customers, as well as to suppliers and other business partners, the communities in which we operate and the environment.

Each of these areas includes directives and standards, management systems, objectives to drive improvement, training and auditing. They are underpinned by AkzoNobel’s risk management process, which integrates environmental, social and governance issues. Where there are specific sustainability risks or issues of concern to stakeholders, we develop position papers and an improvement plan owned by a corporate staff member.

  • Integrity management. Our Code of Conduct details the requirements on employees and on the company to operate with integrity. There is a compliance procedure, a corporate compliance committee and business compliance officers in place to manage these issues. A global complaints procedure also allows employees to report any violations which they encounter.
  • Health, Safety, Environment and Security management. HSE&S management systems are based on international and internal company standards. Implementation is carried out by trained, experienced employees, improvement actions are driven by objectives and verification achieved though internal and external audits.
  • Product stewardship. Management systems and processes are in place to control the safety of our products and to ensure compliance with all international and local regulation, e.g. REACH in Europe.
  • Employment practices. HR systems are set up to meet business and local needs, within the framework of the global HR policy, which set out principles for development, education and training, and compensation and benefits.

Integration in the value chain

Building on the foundations established since 2006, we have focused on integrating sustainability into all areas of the value chain, from market research through to sales and marketing:

  • Research, Development & Innovation groups focusing on product design for eco-efficiency, applying clever chemistry
  • Sourcing working in partnership with suppliers to ensure business integrity, and to help us deliver sustainable value to our customers
  • Manufacturing optimizing processes, improving yields, improving energy efficiency
  • Sales and marketing working with customers to develop eco-premium solutions.

Long-term strategic value

As we move forward we are identifying and managing those issues which provide the long-term opportunities for the business:

  • Working in partnership with customers and suppliers to deliver eco-premium solutions
  • Managing long-term resource and environmental issues
  • Developing our people to lead and deliver innovative solutions
  • Increasingly working in partnership with a range of stakeholders to achieve transformational change.

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