Dialogue with Sustainability Experts

Exchanges with internationally recognized sustainability experts play a special role in Henkel’s dialogue with its stakeholders. For the 2004 and 2005 Sustainability Reports, we asked experts from Brazil, China, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Mexico, Russia, and the USA to describe the challenges and priorities they see in their countries and regions. In 2007, we continued the regional dialogue with expert Dr. Allen White of the Tellus Institute in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. At our sustainability press conference in Düsseldorf in March 2007, Dr. White and Brad Caspar, President and Chie. Executive Officer of our subsidiary The Dial Corporation, discussed current developments in the USA in the field of sustainability. In 2008, we invited John Elkington, founder and Chief Entrepreneur of the SustainAbility Agency, London, UK, to a workshop at our headquarters in Düsseldorf.  In the context of his presentation, John Elkington described to Henkel sustainability experts the current challenges associated with the topic of sustainability. The panel also discussed risk and opportunities associated with intensified marketing communication of sustainability activities on brand and product level. In 2009, top managers from Henkel in Vienna, Austria, participated in a number of talks with scientists and economic experts. These discussions centered on the topic of establishing trust and security in economically difficult times.

We chose the experts on the basis of their knowledge of the challenges their countries face and their experience in corporate sustainability management. In the meantime, the experts in Italy and Mexico have continued their dialogue with the local Henkel managers. Through the exchange we are able to compare our corporate views of the global challenges with those of the experts. At the same time, the experts are able to gain greater insight into our activities and ideas. Overall, the expert dialogue helps us to adjust our alignment to sustainable development and social responsibility to reflect external expectations in the different regions, and to find the right answers – especially when it comes to developing appropriate solutions at the local level.

Results of Expert Dialogue

Collectively, the experts’ contributions present a balanced picture of the key issues in emerging economies and industrialized countries. It is clear that, while many of the challenges of sustainable development are similar everywhere, priorities and perspectives differ widely from region to region. Emerging economies, in particular, expect multinationals to contribute to the development of their countries. In industrialized countries, in contrast, maintaining competitiveness is increasingly becoming a key challenge. The table presents the results of our dialogue with the experts in condensed form and gives concrete examples of the varied expectations.

Based on the results of the dialogue, we have developed our Sustainability Reporting still further. The new reporting structure directly reflects the key areas identified in the dialogue and indicates the Company’s responses to the different regional and global challenges. This approach is intended to emphasize how seriously we take our corporate responsibilities and contribute to sustainable development.

 Key Areas  Expectations in Industrialized Countries  Expectations in Emerging Economies
Economic Development
  • Remain competitive and offer development opportunities to emerging economies
  • Contribute to the country’s development, especially in structurally weak regions
Values and Management
  • Promote the adoption of environmental and social standards, throughout the value chain, especially among suppliers
  • Create transparency regarding economic, ecological and social aspects of corporate activities, especially in emerging economies
  • Support human rights
  • Act ethically and legally
  • Establish high environmental and social standards, and set an example for suppliers and competitors
  • Help to build management competencies and institutions
Products and Marketing
  • Ensure product safety
  • Offer quality products at fair prices
  • Promote sustainable consumption through ethically and ecologically sound products, and by informing consumers and raising their awareness
  • Develop and market quality products for those at the bottom of the affluence pyramid
  • Ensure that products are safe and environmentally compatible
  • Consider the cultural and social context
Resource Efficiency and Climate Protection
  • Stronger focus on products: Dematerialization of the economy by moving from product- to service-oriented business models
  • Help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Transfer know-how and modern energy- and resource-conserving technologies
  • Satisfy growing consumer needs with products that use limited resources efficiently
Employees and
  • Promote job security through employee training and development 
  • Proactively address challenges like equal opportunity and population aging
  • Create jobs and train employees
  • Ensure occupational safety and health protection
  • Promote and raise employee awareness of environmental protection
Social Commitment
  • Work toward meeting the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals
  • Help to solve social problems, also by encouraging employee volunteering
  • Support and promote, in particular, disadvantaged children and young people
  • Raise public awareness of environmental protection
  • Promote education and research for sustainable development

Detailed Statements

The above table presents a summary of the results of the expert dialogue and offers specific examples of the regionally differing expectations. The detailed version of the expert statements are provided below:

Prof. Dr. Marco Frey
Prof. Dr. Marco Frey | Centre for Research on Energy

"Companies have operational responsibilities and citizenship opportunities.” more

Prof. Dr. István Láng
Prof. Dr. István Láng | Member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary

“Changing behavior and developing knowledge” more

Prof. Dr. Peng Sizhen
Prof. Dr. Peng Sizhen | Director, Center for Environmentally Sound Technology Transfer, Beijing, China

“Thinking ‘one world’ and servicing the same home” more

Prof. Alejandro Sosa
Prof. Alejandro Sosa | Director, Global Environmental Management Initiative (GEMI), Mexico

“Predict the future by creating it” more

Dr. Allen White
Dr. Allen White | Vice President and Member of the Board of Directors, Tellus Institut, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

“Trust takes years to build, but only a mistake or two to lose.” more

Dr.P. D. Jose
Dr. P. D. Jose | Professor Corporate Strategy and Policy Area, Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, India

“Successful companies can exist only in successful and sustainable societies.” more

Henrique B. Cavalcanti

Henrique B. Cavalcanti | President of FUNATURA, former Minister of Environment and the Amazon, Chairman of the 3rd. Session, UN Commission on Sustainable Development

“Being a good citizen and an active participant in society.” more

Christian Hochfeld
Christian Hochfeld | Deputy Director, Öko-Institut e.V. (Institute for Applied Ecology)

“Recognizing and utilizing social challenges as a motor for sustainable product innovations.” more

Dr. Mikhail Kozeltsev
Dr. Mikhail Kozeltsev | Russian Regional Enviromental Center (RREC), Moscow, Russia

“Accepting national challenges as a way to gaining public confidence.“ more

Interview Kasper Rorsted, Chairman of the Henkel Management Board

Henkel supports the goals of the UN Global Compact.