Active stakeholder dialogue
In 2013, we implemented a variety of projects and events to maintain our active dialogue with key stakeholders on issues that are or may become relevant to our company and our economic success.
The stakeholders of relevance to LANXESS are the groups, institutions and people with whom we are linked directly or indirectly through our business units and who therefore have a justified interest in our activities. The primary purpose of our dialogue with customers, employees, suppliers, capital market participants, the media, neighbors of our sites, and representatives of politics, public authorities and NGOs is to identify topics that we consider to be significant in terms of our corporate responsibility. At the same time, we seek to encourage mutual understanding and build trust through open and constructive dialogue.
The Most Important CR Issues Perceived by the Stakeholder Groups Surveyed
Regular stakeholder surveys
We carry out regular surveys of our key stakeholders to ensure we always have a representative view of how they perceive LANXESS’s sustainability activities and which issues they consider to be particularly important. The most heavily represented stakeholder groups in the surveys carried out to date were employees, customers, representatives of politics and capital market participants. However, we also included representatives of NGOs and our suppliers.
Our most recent survey in 2012 showed that our stakeholders consider us to be well positioned compared to the relevant competitors in terms of our general CR strategy and activities. In particular, our performance in developing innovative products for green mobility and communicating our sustainable activities was rated very highly. The most concrete suggestions for improvement were spread over a number of individual aspects relating to working conditions and environmental protection. We meet respondents’ request for a transparent portrayal of sustainability in our supply chain through the Together for Sustainability initiative we founded in 2012 together with five other chemical companies. This is described in detail in the combined management report. Our Diversity & Inclusion initiative also incorporates suggestions received in our stakeholder surveys. In our combined annual and sustainability report, we regularly provide comprehensive information about progress in both the aforementioned areas as well as in other areas our stakeholders view as important.
Based on the results and suggestions from the survey, we will focus our activities more on those areas our stakeholders consider to be particularly relevant. In the future, we plan to depict these areas in a materiality matrix.
Customer satisfaction as a success factor
In markets with a high level of competitive pressure such as the chemical industry, customer satisfaction and customer loyalty are among the most important success factors. Our central inquiry management system provides customers with information about our products, their applications and potential risks and with product certificates. We apply the principle of one voice to the customer to ensure that every customer has a regular contact person. Critical feedback from customers gives us valuable pointers for improving our products and processes. We have established a global customer complaint management system backed by a Group-wide guideline. The aim is to quickly and competently resolve customer dissatisfaction issues so as to establish a sustained bond between the customer and us.
The customer surveys we conduct every two years use recognized opinion research methods and also provide us with vital information about the loyalty of our customers, their expectations and how they perceive our services compared to those of our competitors. In line with our aim, we increased the number of customers contacted in 2013 by 40% compared with the last survey. The overall assessment of LANXESS was again very good and represented an improvement on the previous results.
Our daily commitment to high customer satisfaction was also honored in 2013 with a number of awards from our customers. For example, our Liquid Purification Technologies business unit received a supplier award for very good product quality and outstanding service from Brita, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of drinking water filters. For the third time, our Butyl Rubber business unit was presented with the Strategic Partnership Award from Chinese tire manufacturer Triangle.
Social media guideline introduced
The social media are more than just a trend. Every day, several billion people use platforms like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn for networking and exchanging information within seconds. We believe that the social media offer great opportunities for improving global dialogue, the collaboration among our employees and the interaction with external stakeholder groups. In 2013, we introduced a social media guideline to ensure responsible use of the social media and raise our employees’ awareness for the associated risks. It defines general rules of conduct and specifies a selected group of specially trained employees who are officially allowed to publish and comment on contributions on behalf of LANXESS.
Establishing efficient networks
We are very aware that no single organization alone – company, government, research institute or NGO – will be able to master the major social challenges of our time. Alongside the many CR activities of our own, we are therefore participating increasingly in establishing powerful global networks where we combine our competence in sustainable development with the expertise of other partners. As well as state institutions, NGOs in particular – with their extensive expert knowledge of specific issues – have a crucial role to play.
Our Green Mobility initiative is a prime example of successful networking that benefits several participants and is totally in keeping with our philosophy of “Good for business, good for society.” Our Mobility Days, Automotive Days and Rubber Days, for example, are interdisciplinary, global platforms for discussing current green mobility issues and trends with experts from business, science and associations.
Our first Lanxess Pigments Symposium held in Shanghai, China, in November 2013 discussed sustainable technologies for a clean environment. More than 140 participants heard papers and attended panel discussions and workshops concerning the sustainable manufacture of inorganic pigments and global trends in the coatings and pigments industries.
Since 2013, we have been supporting “Chemie³,” a joint sustainability initiative of the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI), the German Mining, Chemical and Energy Industrial Union (IG BCE) and the German Chemical Industry Employers’ Association (BAVC). The initiative focuses on the Guidelines for Sustainability in the Chemical Industry in Germany, which encompass a total of 12 areas of activity and were formulated with input from internal and external stakeholders. They are a mission statement for the industry, supporting companies and their employees in expanding their contributions to sustainability.
In October 2013, LANXESS hosted the 8th Innovation Management Round Table, one of a series of events conceived and organized by German gas and electricity utility RWE. The theme of the network meeting at LANXESS’s headquarters was the culture of innovation. This forum offers LANXESS the opportunity to enter into interdisciplinary dialogue on effective innovation management and benefit from the exchange of views.
We also conduct an open dialogue with government representatives and with authorities on local, European and international level. The focus is on an active exchange of ideas on strategic corporate issues such as environmentally friendly product and process innovations, developments on raw material and energy markets and issues relating to the labor market and education policy. Our own offices in Berlin and Brussels place us close to the center of political decision-making.
Another important element of our stakeholder communication is structured dialogue with residents in the immediate vicinity of our sites. In fall 2013, for example, our affiliate Currenta opened Chempunkt neighborship offices to serve as a point of contact for local residents interested in discussing issues concerning the Chempark sites in Leverkusen, Dormagen and Krefeld-Uerdingen, where LANXESS has many production facilities. Also planned are events addressing matters such as safety and vocational training. In addition, LANXESS is seeking to collaborate with clubs and associations. Our dialogue offering is rounded off with information films and other materials.