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How having a heart is good for business: AkzoNobel touched 9 million lives in 2016

Companies that balance their economic goals with societal goals will find that they are able to achieve greater success than if they were focused on profit alone. AkzoNobel has a long history of giving back to the community – it’s just in our DNA – and it’s what gives us momentum to do great things as a company.

AkzoNobel’s Human Cities initiative touched 9 million lives in 2016

Companies that balance their economic goals with societal goals will find that they are able to achieve greater success than if they were focused on profit alone. AkzoNobel has a long history of giving back to the community – it’s just in our DNA – and it’s what gives us momentum to do great things as a company.

In 2016 alone, more than 7,200 of our employees carried out 300 volunteering projects, with nine million people benefiting from our activities. Since 2005, our community program has involved 20,000 volunteers, so it’s clear our people are passionate about working together to make a difference and share our belief in the importance of supporting our communities.

Caring about people gives us a meaningful purpose that permeates all of our work. It drives us to grow and innovate, and the efforts of our employees help us to achieve even more.

People need purpose

Seventy-five percent of people across the globe expect that companies should consider their business objectives and the goals of society in equal measure.* And it’s not just the public that has such expectations, our employees and prospective recruits expect it too. With a purpose that transcends the business objectives of the company, employees perform better, are more engaged and feel more pride. Moreover, we build valuable capital as an attractive employer.

At AkzoNobel, we create everyday essentials to make people’s lives more liveable and inspiring. We have found our purpose by simply reminding ourselves that we are humans too. We believe that deeper involvement with the communities is a win-win. We have the capability, agility and products to make a positive impact in local communities across our global footprint. Like our “Let’s Colour” program, through which 11,000 volunteers have brightened the lives of over 70 million people with 1,300,000 liters of paint since 2010.

Solving real problems to drive innovation and growth

Our Human Cities initiative, anchored in our company strategy, takes everything that is great about our company and puts it to good use in society. It is estimated that 70 percent of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050, and Human Cities is our way to help address rapid urbanization and contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

By looking at challenges faced by people around the world and applying our own expertise, we can drive innovation and growth. Like in China, where in response to a need for cleaner air, we developed an interior paint called Dulux Forest Breath that helps purify the air in homes and protect against germs.

And during the UN conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development in Quito, Ecuador, we worked with several partners to transform a neighbourhood with color and build a vertical garden using our micronutrients.

Achieve more together

We want to increase the positive impact we have on society at a global level, and we are proud to work with our employees and the various organizations and initiatives that are helping us to achieve that goal.

As we continue to build trust and credibility through our societal engagement, we have found that we are also starting to attract the right partners and customers to take our efforts even further. We are achieving more together and fostering leadership.

To build on our success with Human Cities, we recently co-founded the Human Cities Coalition, a public-private partnership that will focus on realizing SDG 11 on sustainable cities.

"By working together with local communities and our employees, NGOs, governments and community leaders, we will be able to achieve our business objectives and fulfil our promise: making people’s lives more liveable and inspiring."
Annemieke Kievit, Director Public Affairs & Human Cities

*Edelman Trust Barometer 2017