Taking a stand

Reflecting on diversity and inclusion at AkzoNobel

At AkzoNobel, we do not tolerate any form of discrimination, including racism.

Taking a stand like this is nothing new for us, because we’ve been driving diversity and inclusion at AkzoNobel for some time – and we know it will continue to require our constant attention.

Our General Counsel, Isabelle Deschamps, is the main driving force behind our commitment to keep improving. She’s passionate about equal opportunities and is always looking to take positive action in order to make the company’s inclusion and diversity initiatives as effective as possible.

“As a company, we’re committed to making improvements every single day, for our colleagues and the communities where we operate,” she says. “I believe very strongly in the strength of diversity and I’m both personally and professionally invested in achieving true equality.”

We employ people all over the world, from many different backgrounds, and we’ve always taken pride in the fact that diversity and inclusion are key values for our company. 

What we’re doing
Our commitment to diversity and inclusion is part of our broader “People. Planet. Paint.” ambitions. Included within the “People” pillar are the actions we take to become an even more inclusive and diverse company.

In 2019, for example, we launched a mandatory training program for all employees, focused on respecting people, diversity and unconscious bias. It includes topics such as micro-aggression, discrimination and harassment. Having since taken some time for self-reflection following recent events in the US and around the world, we are also reviewing what else we can do. We will be planning events for our employees for 2020 as follows:

  • July – Racial diversity at AkzoNobel 
  • August – Cultural diversity
  • September – Strengthening senior female leadership
  • October – International Coming Out Day
  • November – International Men’s Day
  • December – International Day of Persons with Disabilities

We see diversity and inclusion, in all its forms, as an ongoing journey. We’re building on what we’ve already done, and we’ll keep the conversation going so we can keep on improving.

Connected by internal networks
One of the things we’ve already put in place is a plan to foster internal networks. These are designed to bring our employees closer together and offer them connection and discussion platforms. This is just one way in which we’re trying to help by offering safe discussion and sharing environments for all our employees.

Two of the networks that have already been successfully established are True Colors – driving LGBTI+ inclusion at AkzoNobel – and a global Women Inspired Network, which operates at global and regional levels to empower women at AkzoNobel. Both networks continue to gain momentum and hosted virtual events in June 2020.

During the recent True Colors interactive Pride Month webcast, our CEO, Thierry Vanlancker, signed the Declaration of Amsterdam. This is a great example of how we’re showing our commitment as a company to creating a safe and inclusive workplace for our LGBTI+ colleagues – as well as for everyone else.

During the signing ceremony, Thierry said: “I want everyone working at AkzoNobel to feel at home and to know that all of us deserve a workplace where you feel respected and are offered equal opportunities, regardless of your sexual orientation, race, gender, age, religion or nationality.”

Committed to leading with integrity
One of our three core principles for doing business is Integrity – in other words, doing the right thing, no matter what. Our Integrity and Compliance program – in addition to ensuring our compliance with laws and regulations – also guides our employees in making fair and honest decisions every day.

We encourage our employees to report behavior that doesn’t comply with our Code of Conduct by sharing their concerns with Human Resources, their manager, or by using our internal procedures. We will hold people accountable for violating our values.

You can read more about this in our Report 2019