Creating a common understanding for sustainable business practices

For sustainability to stay firmly embedded in the way we run our business, each and every one our employees must internalize the principles of sustainable development. Modules on the subject of sustainability are a fixed part of basic and advanced training, orientation events and programs for new employees and apprentices. Regular environmental protection weeks, trainings on safety, health and environment matters as well as seminars on diversity, compliance or our Social Standards should highlight the diverse opportunities and the inspiration that sustainability provides for each employee in their day-to-day work. Workshops on specific themes – such as logistics, marketing, research and bioplastics – are intended not only to create a common basis of knowledge, but to ensure that the solutions generated take into account all aspects of sustainable development. Current developments are also covered in the employee newspaper, the intranet news and special newsletters. Also in our management systems, our vision, values, codes and standards are detailed in concrete work instructions.

Anchoring the Sustainability Strategy 2030

In presenting Henkel's new Sustainability Strategy 2030, our 3,000 team leaders around the world were requested to discuss the new strategy with their teams and to draw up a sustainability action plan for their own particular sphere of activity, one that precisely reflects the opportunities and challenges they see in their business. This is how we ensure that the strategy will be translated into concrete projects in every business sector, every function, and every region. Discussions center around the questions of "what are we doing well today?" and "what could we do better tomorrow?".

To convey our new sustainability strategy, we deliberately chose a dialogue-oriented approach with action plan meetings. Because establishing a clear strategy is just the beginning: it can only become an integral part of daily activities and a guideline to behavior and decision-making if all employees understand the underlying principles and have an opportunity to make their own contributions. Joint discussion of the strategy helps to explain it, and encourages everyone involved to keep the entire value chain in mind when considering short- and long-term measures and to address any conflicting goals openly. Every top manager around the world was requested to hold an action plan meeting with the people in his or her immediate team by the end of 2011. This process is scheduled to be completed for the lower management levels as well by mid-2012. In addition to the action plan meetings, we are also integrating the topic of sustainability to a greater extent in other existing training programs and seminars.

International exchange and dialogue

The exchange between academics and practitioners in regard to sustainability in human resources management enables us to assimilate new perspectives and developments. For example, we are active in the "People Matter: Capacity Building" working group of the World Business Council of Sustainable Development (WBCSD). This group develops concepts and case studies that show how employees can be successfully involved in sustainability efforts.

Photo action plan meeting
Sustainability Strategy 2030 action plan meeting: Joachim Bolz (fourth from left), President of Henkel France, discusses the implementation of the new sustainability strategy with his management team and Henkel experts.

Last updated: March 8, 2012