Five ways for a company to embrace equity

Five ways for a company to embrace equity

Five ways for a company to embrace equity  

Two years ago, AkzoNobel first signed the Women’s Empowerment Principles. Now on International Women’s Day 2023, with a new CEO ready to carry on the commitment, we’re reflecting on what it really means for a company to sign this document – because it’s not just a photo op. “Signing the Women’s Empowerment Principles is a natural extension of the AkzoNobel culture and the way we operate,” says Greg Poux-Guillaume, AkzoNobel CEO. “We are making encouraging progress towards gender equality, but it remains an ongoing journey from which we will not deviate. We owe it to ourselves, to our partners and to our communities.” Here’s a brief overview of five ways we’re building a more diverse and inclusive company:

1. Increase leadership diversity

AkzoNobel’s leaders understand the importance of representation that reflects the diversity of our organization. We’ve set a goal of achieving 30% female representation in senior executive roles by 2025. Currently, at 25%, we’re well on our way to increasing that number.

Diverse leadership teams bring a range of perspectives and experiences that help us make better decisions and respond more effectively to changing market conditions. So as part of striving for 50-50 gender representation in executive recruitment, we require hiring managers to put together diverse interview panels.

2. Mind the gender pay gap

We believe in equal pay for equal work – and we can prove it.

In 2022, an external review of our compensation practice found that after correcting for background variables, the annual pay gap was just 0.9% in favour of men. We’ll continue to review the data and our practices to do what we can to get even closer to equal pay.

3. Develop and retain female talent

A rebuild of our talent performance framework is currently underway to provide our top talent with more career growth opportunities. Designed through the lens of diversity and inclusion, special care is being taken to prevent bias.

Globally, many resources are already in place to make sure our work environments are inclusive and welcoming to all, including a D&I toolkit, team workshops and an ambassador network.

We’re also making structural improvements, with a €400,000 budget allocated to improve women’s facilities in our manufacturing and supply chain locations. This includes projects to enhance bathrooms, showers and changing rooms, as well as create lactation rooms. Smaller improvements can also have a big impact – for instance, we now advise our sites to provide properly fitted workwear for female employees.

4. Foster employee networks

Our employee-driven Women Inspired Network connects people of all genders who are interested in advancing gender equality. 

Organized into local chapters, the network is a place to learn, grow and empower each other to drive change. For example, our India chapter invited local leaders to reverse-mentor women, increasing awareness of gender-related challenges. For this International Women’s Day, an online event about parenting and work will encourage conversation at our sites around the world.

5. Empower women in local communities

One of our 2030 ambitions is to empower more than 100,000 people with new skills – including programs tailored specifically to women.

In Brazil, our “Mulheres na Cor” (Women in Color) program helps women transform their lives by breaking into the traditionally male-dominated vehicle refinishes and decorative paints industries. In another initiative, we started working with more than 500 women in rural India to promote entrepreneurship in decorative paints.

Our journey to gender equity continues

The five areas listed above represent just a few of the actions we’re taking to promote gender quality at AkzoNobel and in the communities where we operate. We’re highly motivated to keep learning and growing in this journey together – that’s embracing equity.

Building critical mass for sustainable business

Building critical mass for sustainable business

Building critical mass for sustainable business

This was the challenge UN Global Compact Network Netherlands formulated one year ago for an alliance of 5 European universities (Barcelona, Budapest, Dublin, Montpellier, and Utrecht) under the name CHARM-EU, co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.* A group of four students took the challenge and came up with their presentation on February 2, 2023, in Barcelona. One day later, together with all the other 56 students, they received their master’s degree at the European University, for the first time in history.

The focus of the students

The master students focussed the research question “What are SME perspectives regarding current and emerging sustainability reporting practices considering the incoming CSRD?” They focussed on the Netherlands where both their stakeholder UN Global Compact and the four University of Utrecht students are based.

The outcome of the research

After several interviews and desk research, it was confirmed: the SMEs have a lack of time, money and clarity about what is expected from them. Therefore, they built a prototype for a training module in the UN Global Compact Academy, consisting of three parts: requirements, resources/strategies, and a final quiz. Traditionally, we have the misconception that SMEs are little pawns in the business ecosystem, but the new regulations have put them in the spotlight and given them again the key role they have always played in their supply chains.

UN Global Compact Network Netherlands will consider how to follow up on these ideas.


*  The number of alliances as part of the European University is 44 and still growing, but none of them has already acquired accreditation for a master’s degree like CHARM-EU has.



Project Untold – By 11 young professionals that participate in UN Global Compact Network Netherlands’ Young Professionals Program

Project Untold – By 11 young professionals that participate in UN Global Compact Network Netherlands’ Young Professionals Program

Project Untold – By 11 young professionals that participate in UN Global Compact Network Netherlands’ Young Professionals Program

Every day, 17 million Dutch citizens purchase thousands of products: new jeans, a coffee, a t-shirt or a bottle of milk. But the price paid for these items almost never accounts for the true impact the production and consumption of these goods have on our environmental and social ecosystems.

As consumers, we often make purchases without any insight into the impact caused by the creation and/or delivery of everyday products and services. How do we activate people to be more aware of the story behind what they buy and empower interested individuals with the information they need to make informed and considered purchasing decisions?

About the project

As part of the Young Professionals Program of UN Global Compact Network Netherlands, we are a diverse team of 11 young professionals working across various organizations and industries. Together, we have launched Project Untold in partnership with True Price, with the goal of increasing awareness of the true costs associated with consumer choices. Motivated by our shared passion for sustainability, we aim to inspire others to make informed, responsible decisions that align with the SDGs. As aspiring leaders, we are committed to continually improving and making a positive impact on the world around us.

Project Untold focuses on raising awareness of the true environmental and social costs associated with everyday commodities and products. Working with a local designer, and True Price we are producing a series of digital art pieces to visualize the impacts of products far beyond what the eyes can see. The first three of these were launched at the True Price festival in November.

The eye-catching digital art

The digital art campaign grabs the attention of the consumer and then raises awareness by providing additional information through a “price tag” on the reverse side (also with a QR code to find out more)

Using digital art allows us to explore digital and social media channels, as well as print and physical exhibitions, for the dissemination of our campaign. We want to take it to the next level through an outdoor physical installation and a social media campaign.

How can you contribute to this campaign?

Currently, we are still working on the funding to expand our campaign and create an additional six art pieces to create even more awareness. Would you like to have more information about our project or interested in contributing to our campaign? Let us know by emailing: 

Principles of Responsible Renumeration

Principles of Responsible Renumeration

Principles of Responsible Renumeration: bridging the gap between purpose and pay

We are honored to have been part of this year’s World Economic Forum. During a session we co-hosted on January 19th, we launched our Principles of Responsible Renumeration (PRR).

CEOs and board members are increasingly expected to lead a positive change and contribute to a more sustainable economy, which requires making different corporate decisions. Executive remuneration is a lever for guiding corporate behavior and is the truest expression of a corporation’s real priorities.

Why are the Principles of Responsible Renumeration necessary?

We have developed the Principles of Responsible Renumeration to support and accelerate a positive global transition and to stimulate progress on the UN SDGs. The PRR are fundamental but pragmatic guidelines that can support businesses in their transition to becoming more sustainable and responsible.

Let me share some of the fundamental considerations to develop the PRR. Or actually, the necessity and rationale to do so. Of the world’s 200 largest economies, 157 are corporations. Corporate supply chain emissions generate 60% of all global emissions. Climate change and environmental degradation could jeopardize 1.2 billion jobs, which means nearly 40% of the global workforce.

Frederic Barge

Frederic Barge

Managing Director, Reward Value Foundation

The gap between purpose and pay

As we all know, it is fashionable to see corporate scale as a negative thing. We believe that is the wrong way to look at it. We believe that using the scale of corporations and the creativity and good will of the millions of smart, dedicated and driven people working for them is undoubtedly our best chance of achieving a sustainable and future-proof economy. And corporations themselves seem to agree. Most of them claim, quite publicly, that they are led by a higher purpose than profit alone.   

However, when you look at the incentives offered to the executives of most large corporations across the globe, a very different picture emerges. In nearly all public companies we’ve looked at as Reward Value, there is a – sometimes significant – gap between the commitments made to people and the planet and the results for which its executives are rewarded. In other words: there’s a gap between purpose and pay.

Principles of Responsible Renumeration as a pragmatic instrument

Traditionally, remuneration policies are often established less by design but more by convention. That’s the way it has always been. Rather than making me cynical, this gives me a great deal of hope. There’s no dark force creating the gap. It’s just a habit, mixed with a fear of being the first to change.

With the PRR, we have created a pragmatic instrument to help corporations design rewards that encourage their executives to live up to them. A step forward on the path to positive change and the realization of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

To find out more about the PRR and Reward Value, please visit:

2022 Wrap-up: a year of growth and impact

2022 Wrap-up: a year of growth and impact

2022 Wrap-up: a year of growth and impact 

Last year was a key year for the UN Global Compact Network Netherlands.

It was the first year of our 3-year strategy ‘accelerating and upscaling impact’. We took the step to become an operationally independent organisation and evolved the hosting relation with VNO-NCW into a strategic partnership. In addition, we welcomed two new colleagues: Mónica Pascual, our Participate Engagement Manager, and Jamie Holton, Programme Manager for Business & Human Rights and Gender Equality.

2022, The year of growth

2022 was also a year of growth. The global network counts more than 17,000 businesses and 3,800 non-profit businesses committed to the Ten Principles and the SDGs, of which 289 companies and 38 non-profit participants are based in the Netherlands. Our local network completed 2022 with 58 new participants – a growth of 15% – and over 90% of participants continued to be a part of our network. Our online community also grew to over 3000 followers on LinkedIn.

Scaling the impact

In 2022 we facilitated many programmatic activities to help enable our members and set ambitious targets to scale the impact that the world needs to reach Agenda 2030:

We contributed to business networking and sharing knowledge by hosting and contributing to more than 20 events. This includes conferences, workshops, and roundtables hosted by us and in collaboration with partners, such as VNO-NCW, AmCham, KVNR, MKB Nederland, NBCC, SDG Netherlands, Socires, and other valuable stakeholders. Our events hosted over 1,000 participants from various sustainability areas and expertise levels – from young professionals to seasoned experts in this industry. Moreover, a number of Dutch participants were present at the global flagship events in-person and virtually, such as COP27,  the Leaders Summit, and Uniting Business LIVE.

What is next in 2023?

2023 has exciting things in store for our members! We just kicked off our Peer Learning Groups pilot, where a total of 22 companies will learn and exchange best practices in two groups: one on Climate Action and one on Gender Equality. We will start our first edition of the Business & Human Rights Accelerator in February. Together with the Social and Economic Council (SER), we will support a record-breaking 26 participating companies to improve their human rights due diligence processes.

In March 2023, we will launch the new platform for our Communication on Progress (make sure to join our live demonstration on February 9th) We also want to thank our participants: Akzo Nobel N.V., Athalos, Barentz International, Bugaboo International, Core Laboratories N.V., Delft Imaging Systems, Dietsmann Monte-Carlo SAM, Heineken N.VImres B.V., and Trital Safety B.V., who were last year’s early adopters and helped to improve the platform.

Besides offering our members inspiring and impactful programmes and events, one of our goals in 2023 is to strengthen and grow our network. Our new ‘Referral Programme’ will reward our members for being ambitious and inspiring organisations to join the UN Global Compact.

We want to thank our participants for their commitment and collaboration in 2022. We look forward to working together on our joint mission to unite businesses for a better world in 2023.

A new way to communicate your progress is coming

A new way to communicate your progress is coming

A new way to communicate your progress is coming in 2023

When you join the UN Global Compact, you are taking an important, public step to transform our world through principled business. Participation makes a statement about your values, and it benefits both society and your company’s long-term success. The Communication on Progress (CoP) is a visible expression of a company’s commitment to sustainability which is mandatory to comply with annually.

This year, we launched our new reporting system for our CoP. With this new format, we will transition from a narrative format to a standardised questionnaire supported by a digital platform that will facilitate the reporting of the UN Global Compact’s 10 principles to our participating companies.

This 2022 ten Dutch participants participated in the ‘early adopter program’ testing the new reporting system. Thanks to their support we have improved the platform and will be available to all the business participants next March 2023. What do you need to know for next year’s CoP?

New unified deadline

We will also introduce a universal submission period that runs from 1 March through 30 June each year starting in 2023. The companies that don’t report before June 30th will appear on our website as Non-Communicating and will be able to submit their CoP until the 31st of December. The companies that will fail to report will be delisted and automatically expelled from the Global Compact from the 1st of January 2024.

Why is the new CoP better?

The new Communication on Progress will result in improved data that drives sustainability progress and enables participating companies like yours to:

  • Build credibility and brand value by showing their commitment to the Ten Principles and the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Measure and demonstrate progress to stakeholders on the Ten Principles and the Sustainable Development Goals, in a consistent and harmonized way.
  • Receive insight, learn and continuously improve performance by identifying gaps, accessing guidance, and setting sustainability goals.
  • Compare progress against peers with access to one of the largest sources of free, public, and comparable corporate sustainability data.

Your communication process ready in 2 steps

The new reporting system will have 2 mandatory steps:

  • Step 1: Complete the online questionnaire
  • Step 2: E-sign the CEO’s statement of continued support

Do you want to know more? Take a look at the new CoP policy, the questionnaire, and the questionnaire guidebook where we explain the structure of the questionnaire as well as a deep dive into each question and how it related to reporting standards.

Do you have questions about the new CoP? Join our upcoming Q&A webinar on December 13th at 2 PM.

Register by clicking here.

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