Developing the stakeholder dialogue

It is of key importance for Kemira to understand which themes related to sustainability are the most relevant to each of its stakeholder groups and how to address them in the best possible way.

The development of the stakeholder engagement process continued in 2012 with a project that included interviews, workshops and an analysis of the internal and external expectations towards Kemira’s sustainability management.

Certain sustainability aspects were raised as being relevant for the dialogue by several stakeholder groups. These aspects include innovation and R&D, resource scarcity, sustainability in own operations, local community involvement and sustainability criteria for suppliers.

One of the key findings was that the analysis results are very much in line with the most relevant sustainability topics that were identified in the materiality analysis made in 2011. In addition, it was noted that the linking of sustainability into the existing dialogue with investors and employees is already taking place, and is also to some extent already included in the customer communications.

Linking sustainability theme to existing dialogue

The objective of the development project was to link important sustainability themes to the existing stakeholder dialogue processes. Another objective was to identify additional, more specified stakeholder groups, and consider how to address them in the best possible way.

"Stakeholder dialogue is one way to identify business opportunities and manage business-related risks," says Anna-Kaisa Säkkinen, Senior Manager, External Communications of Kemira. "We have defined our key stakeholder groups to be customers, shareholders and employees. Now we wanted to develop and extend our existing stakeholder engagement processes by linking them with the most relevant sustainability themes for the stakeholders."

Customers offer the most diverse interface

The stakeholder dialogue between Kemira and its customers is multifaceted, as each employee cooperating with customers is responsible for the dialogue. The results of the study indicate that sustainability should be included in the current customer dialogue from an innovation and R&D point of view. According to the study, specific attention should be paid to such customers that use the latest water technology or are trend setters in taking sustainable solutions into use. Kemira’s focus in developing the customer dialogue will be on educating the employees to communicate about sustainability issues to customers, and to recognize the relevant signals related to Kemira’s sustainability management. Kemira will also offer tools to facilitate the dialogue and reporting about it.

Sustainability already part of the investor dialogue

For shareholders and investors it was noted that sustainability is already at present quite well embedded into the existing communication activities since Kemira's core business is itself so closely linked to sustainability matters. Investors approach sustainability in various ways, but the most highlighted aspects were risk management as well as business opportunities. For Kemira, these long-term, responsible investors that regard sustainability issues as important are among the most important target groups.

Employee engagement activities to include sustainability

For employees, the analysis suggests that sustainability as a topic should be integrated into personnel surveys in a more comprehensive manner in order to have a more balanced and continuous picture of employees’ sustainability expectations. Sustainability plays a significant role in employee engagement: people want to feel pride for their employer and its responsibility. Kemira’s focus in developing employee dialogue will be on answering questions such as “What is Kemira’s sustainability vision?” and “What are we aiming at with our sustainability management?” In addition, it is important to focus on competency requirements and development plans (e.g. induction and training) related to sustainability.

Local communication of importance for the group 'others'

Additional results of the study clearly show that for Kemira’s sustainability dialogue, the most important stakeholders from the group ‘others’ are regulators, legislators, universities, research institutes and local communities. Säkkinen continues: "We also wanted to find out how to best manage stakeholder dialogue regionally." In the project, it was defined which stakeholders should be managed globally and which locally. The results indicate that for the stakeholder group ‘others’, local dialogue is more important than for the three key stakeholder groups.