Stakeholder engagement

As we have reached a level of maturity in our responsible stewardship, we can now engage more efficiently with our stakeholders to align our sustainability strategy with theirs. We have built strong relationships with the aim of understanding the externalities and trends that could affect us in the future, by engaging with our key stakeholders, conducting life cycle assessment of our product and sharing information with peers.

We seek to better understand the material issues that affect our stakeholders, which is why we are constantly working to improve our engagement processes. It is by engaging with our stakeholders that we can help them while creating and sharing value.

Our stakeholder groups include:

We have identified a sub-group of stakeholders that have the greatest impact on our business. Our engagement with this group can make a difference and we are currently directing our strategy based on what is material to them.

  • Customers

    How we engageExamples in FY2017
    Our objective is to develop long-term relationships with customers and become the carbon black provider of choice, based on excellent service and a high-quality product. One way in which we achieve this is through engagement on sustainability issues and aligning our sustainability agendas. Our dedicated Global Engagement Managers (GEMs) regularly engage with customers, through our Key Account Management (KAM) program.

    We perform satisfaction surveys using the Net Promoter Score® (NPS®) methodology, through which we compare our performance with our peers.

    We hold periodic customer dialogue events, through which we align our sustainability strategy with our partners.

  • Employees

    How we engageExamples in FY2017
    Our employees provide us with feedback through our bi-annual surveys and we encourage continuous dialogue between managers and employees daily. We also provide a hotline through which our personnel can air grievances anonymously.

    We conducted our latest Vibes survey in FY2017, with a 98% response rate. The survey showed that we perform well in customer centricity, employee pride and employees feeling connected to overall business goals, while we can still perform better at attracting talent, offering varied career opportunities and providing a workplace attractive to young people.

    In FY2017, we held our first One Voice employee survey, covering 100% of employees.

    As of FY2017, all our employees have safe access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH); however, four sites have yet to achieve the full WASH target.

  • Suppliers

    How we engageExamples in FY2017
    As our business depends on suppliers, we work closely with them to develop strong relationships. Our suppliers’ behavior reflects on us; we work to ensure they uphold our high ethical standards.

    Over the last three years, we have rolled out our Code of Ethics with contractual terms and conditions that we expect every supplier to sign.

    We review our global feedstock suppliers and encourage our suppliers to audit our own operations. One such audit took place in FY2017, at our plant in Cubatão, Brazil.

    We partnered with a third party due diligence screening provider, who reviewed over 150 of our distributors and sales agents in FY2017.

  • Aditya Birla Group

    How we engageExamples in FY2017
    Our parent company, the Aditya Birla Group, follows a three-step sustainability agenda: responsible stewardship; stakeholder engagement; and future-proofing.

    We have aligned our sustainability strategy with the Group’s three-step agenda.

    We participate in a weekly sustainability webinar across the Group, in which a business unit presents their progress and initiatives. We regularly communicate our progress through this channel.

    We also participate in the annual ABG Sustainability Conference to share knowledge and best practices internally.

  • Communities

    How we engageExamples in FY2017
    Our approach to community relationships is localized, based on an understanding of the varying regional social and cultural priorities. We focus on delivering long-term socio-economic benefits, namely health, education, social support and charitable giving.

    See our Communities section, where we describe our community engagement in greater detail.

  • NGOs, civil society, academics

    How we engageExamples in FY2017
    We continue to interact with NGOs and wider social institutions that are particularly relevant for our business. This engagement takes the form of face-to-face meetings or participation in events where we share knowledge with our peers.

    We engaged in face-to-face meetings with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) to extend our understanding of how we should shape our sustainability strategy, which we have described in greater detail in this report.

    Through the Aditya Birla Group, we have engaged with Forum for the Future, who is helping us to define how we future-proof our business.

    We participate in the Sustainable Leadership Forum (SLF), a group representing business leaders from a range of industries who share knowledge on common sustainability issues affecting their business.

    As part of the wider dialogue on how companies can help achieve global sustainability targets, we have aligned our SOE strategy to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

    Many of our facilities are involved in local chemical industry associations. For example, in Brazil we participate in several ABIQUIM committees, covering topics such as health and safety, sustainability, emergency response and the environment.

    Our Corporate Risk Manager chairs the Education Committee of the Risk Management Society (RIMS) Atlanta Chapter in the USA and coordinates their annual conference which provides education and engagement opportunities for risk professionals.

    Our Corporate Health and Safety Managers participate in the American Society of Safety Engineers, the largest professional safety society in the world. In FY2017, we presented at the 2nd Annual Professional Development Conference and Exposition in Hyderabad, India where we shared our experience around the ‘Role of Leadership in Sustainable Safety Culture’.

Engaging with industry in Brazil

Through our facilities in South America, we form part of the Brazilian Chemical Industry Association (ABIQUIM), which represents local manufacturers of chemical products and covers a broad range of issues. These include:

  • Quality, health, safety and environmental issues;
  • Human resources;
  • Statistics and economic studies;
  • Product advocacy; and
  • Free trade agreements and tariff negotiations, among others.

With over 160 members, ABIQUIM gives us an excellent opportunity to connect with other chemical industry leaders in the region. Birla Carbon contributes to monthly health, safety and environmental indicator meetings; for example, we helped to develop indicators, metrics and associated definitions and manuals for ABIQUIM and its members to use to assess their performance. Our involvement in ABIQUIM enables us to influence and review state and national regulations and participate in benchmarking, educational opportunities and best practice sharing.

“Through our participation, we are able not just to influence decisions that could impact our industry, but also learn from other leaders about best practices and the challenges they’ve overcome.”

Alessandra Gómez, Health, Safety and Environment Director, South America