Diversity and inclusion

At AkzoNobel, a diverse and inclusive workplace means creating an organization where people feel included, respected and fully engaged.

We rely on the exceptional talent of 33,000 colleagues from over 120 nationalities. Based in locations across the globe, they’re united by a single purpose – People. Planet. Paint. To achieve this and our other strategic ambitions we know we need a high-performing workforce that truly reflects our customer base and the communities we operate in. That’s why we’re continuing to focus on creating a diverse and inclusive working environment where our people feel safe and empowered to be their true selves.


Our commitments

We’re proud to be building a diverse and inclusive company where we can all perform at our best and support others in their success. By becoming a more inclusive employer, great people will want to work here who can help drive us forward and understand – and anticipate – the changing needs and expectations of our customers.

Our plans and initiatives are focused around three key commitments:

- Fostering an inclusive culture

- Expanding our diversity and inclusion networks

- Strengthening our leadership diversity and focus on gender balance 


Fostering an inclusive culture

To benefit from a diverse environment, it’s important that we’re all aware that others perceive and experience the world differently. That’s what fostering an inclusive culture is all about.


Unconscious bias training
Our success in creating a diverse and inclusive work environment depends on the support and understanding of our people. To help enable this, all employees must take part in unconscious bias training as part of their onboarding. This training explains what unconscious bias is, how it can impact others and how to guard against it. So far, more than 89% of our online population have completed the training and we have a rollout plan in place to address those without an active email address.


Positive change starts with people managers
We know that the leaders in our organization play a pivotal role in shaping culture. We believe that positive change starts with our people managers role modelling inspiring behaviors so we created the “I Belong” guide to provide ideas and examples of how leaders can create an environment where everyone feels included. This has been translated into 16 different languages and includes ways for managers to share learnings with their teams.  


Supporting diversity and inclusion
We’ve developed a toolkit that explains what diversity and inclusion means, why it’s important, what we’re doing about it and how to support it. 

Our mentoring platform is one of the ways we’re supporting diversity and inclusion. It connects employees from all over the world and creates a space for them to develop themselves and for leaders to learn. Our SpeakUp! reporting website is also aligned with our diversity and inclusion aims and enables our employees to raise concerns about violations of our Code of Conduct in a confidential manner.

Expanding our diversity and inclusion networks

It’s important that all our colleagues feel included and valued so we’ve established dedicated employee-led diversity and inclusion networks. These provide important forums for underrepresented groups and offer safe spaces and a mechanism to address concerns.


Equal Access Board 
Our employees should be able to access the resources they need to do their job well, but sometimes a helping hand might be needed. We’ve set up the Equal Access Board to make sure any special priority requests are treated appropriately. The board is a group of employees directly connected to senior executives who, if needed, can take any problems in hand. For example, if an employee has a visual impairment and needs special software but there are delays in arranging this, the employee can reach out to the board who will immediately raise this with the point of contact for IT. 


True Colors
If we’re to become the global industry leader in paints and coatings and continue to delight our customers, it’s important that our vision is inclusive of the LGBTI+ community. That's why, regardless of the local laws in the countries we operate in, we demonstrate that employees can trust our company as a safe environment to work in. That means going beyond the minimum legal requirements of equality, showing active leadership from straight [heterosexual] allies and LGBTI+ role models and providing visible support for LGBTI+ actions and initiatives. We’ve also revised and adjusted our policies to ensure an equal opportunity workplace.

We founded our True Colors network to help connect colleagues from across the LGBTI+ community and those who identify as allies, as well as develop and support LGBTI+ inclusion across our organization. We want all our employees to feel valued and able to be their authentic selves at work.

Every year, we take part in the Workplace Pride survey to assess the development of our policies and regulations, as well as the inclusiveness of our communications and the impact of our initiatives. In addition, our CEO Thierry Vanlancker has signed the Declaration of Amsterdam, committing to provide a safe and comfortable environment where LGBTI+ employees can thrive.


Women Inspired Network 
Our Women Inspired Network is one of the ways we’re supporting colleagues to fulfill their career potential. It aims to make sure the experience of all colleagues is equally positive, especially when it comes to recruitment, promotion, talent management and performance. Our global Women Inspired Network connects colleagues around the world through events and sessions on topics related to women in the workplace including inspiring career development stories and conversations about challenges and how to overcome them.

The Women Inspired Network also promotes global events such as the UN initiative #HeforShe, International Women’s Day and breast cancer awareness days. This is a fast-growing network with local Women Inspired Network chapters in locations including the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, US, Brazil, Argentina, Dubai, India, China and Singapore. All follow a local agenda and address local topics, to which all Women Inspired Network members are invited, and learnings are shared. 


Strengthening our leadership diversity and focus on gender balance

One of our key areas of focus is to increase the share of women across all levels of the organization. Our Business Unit and Function leaders have been assigned targets to hit by the end of 2021 which will form the basis of a longer-term approach. To enable this, it’s confirmed that senior leaders are accountable, managers are responsible and Human Resources will support the achievement of the targets. 


Committed to change
We have a very ambitious plan, but we’re committed to change. We’re fully aware that setting targets is just a starting point. In parallel to this we need to create a culture that welcomes more women into the workplace and an infrastructure that makes them want to stay.

We’re working in close collaboration with our Women Inspired Network, who act as the linking pin between women’s interests and AkzoNobel’s initiatives. Examples of initiatives include the setting up of a hybrid working policy, promoting lateral moves to incentivize women to try different areas of our organization and asking senior leaders to mentor women from different levels.

AkzoNobel is part of the European Round Table for Industry (ERT). We submit our global figures for female representation in leadership positions and at an executive level to them on an annual basis. We have a target of 30% female representation at senior executive level by 2025.


Talent acquisition is key
Female talent representation at the levels feeding into our senior executive positions is important if we’re going to reach our target of 30% representation by 2025. As a result, various actions are being taken to ensure there are suitable female candidates to succeed at the senior executive level, including reviewing our retention and development approaches.

Talent acquisition plays a key role, so a 50/50 gender hiring approach was set for some of our functions for the two levels below senior executives. Referral benefits have also been improved, global guidelines for talent acquisition managers have been updated and in-house learning opportunities such as improving interview skills have been made available. 


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