Board of Management and Executive Committee
The Board of Management is entrusted with the management of the company. When it comes to the management of our business, it operates in the context of an Executive Committee. The Executive Committee comprises the members of the Board of Management, (currently the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and the Chief Financial Officer (CFO)), the Chief Operating Officer, the Chief Supply Chain Officer, the General Counsel and the Chief Human Resources Officer. The Chief Corporate Development Officer was also a member of the Executive Committee until stepping down as of October 1, 2019. Reference is made to the paragraph Board of Management and executive succession in this chapter.
The composition of the Executive Committee ensures that functional, operational and commercial expertise is entrenched at the highest level of the organization. Among other responsibilities, the Board of Management defines the strategic direction. It establishes and maintains internal policies and procedures for effective risk management and control, manages the realization of the company’s operational and financial targets, its sustainability performance and its pursuit of long-term value creation. In fulfilling their duties, Board of Management members are assisted by the Executive Committee and guided by the interests of the company and its affiliated enterprises, taking into consideration the relevant interests of the company’s stakeholders.
The Board of Management and Executive Committee promote openness and engagement through a SpeakUp! grievance mechanism and have established a Code of Conduct, policies, rules and procedures incorporated in the company’s Policy framework, in order to drive a culture of good governance, consistency and functional excellence. The values of good governance, sustainability and teamwork adopted by the Board of Management are incorporated in these documents. The Board of Management believes these values contribute to a culture focused on long-term value creation and actively encourages these values through leading by example.
A strong company culture fostering a solid and well-embedded balance between performance and organizational health is highly valued by the Board of Management and Supervisory Board, and is fundamental to AkzoNobel’s business strategy.
In order to ensure our transformation has a sustainable impact on the whole organization, our company culture forms an important part of discussions involving internal organizational changes and Human Resources strategy updates. In 2018, a quarterly Insight survey was launched to all employees, focusing on our wider organizational health, which was continued during 2019 (see Note 7 of the Sustainability statements). The Executive Committee and Supervisory Board regularly discuss the results of the survey, the targets and the actions taken to achieve such targets.
The Board of Management takes precedence; all Executive Committee decisions require a majority of the members of the Board of Management. The Board of Management can at all times decide to reserve decisions for the Board of Management. The members of the Board of Management remain accountable for all decisions made by the Executive Committee. The Board of Management is accountable for its performance to the Supervisory Board and is answerable to the shareholders of the company at the AGM. The Executive Committee members who are not also members of the Board of Management report to the CEO.
The Supervisory Board has regular, direct interaction with all members of the Executive Committee and all Executive Committee members attend most Supervisory Board meetings.
The CEO leads the Executive Committee in its overall management of the company. He is the main point of liaison with the Supervisory Board. The CFO is responsible for overseeing AkzoNobel’s finances, its corporate control, investor relations and information management.
The tasks, responsibilities and procedures of the Board of Management and Executive Committee are set out in their Rules of Procedure. These rules have been approved by the Supervisory Board and are available on our website.
Authority to represent the company is vested in the two members of the Board of Management, acting jointly. This includes the signing of documents. The Board of Management has also delegated a level of authority to corporate agents, including the other members of the Executive Committee. The list of authorized signatories is filed with the public registry and is available on request from the Dutch Chamber of Commerce.
The Managing Directors of our business units and the Corporate Directors in charge of the different functions report to individual Executive Committee members with specific responsibility for their activities and performance.
Board of Management members are appointed and removed from office by the AGM. The Board of Management members were appointed by EGMs (Extraordinary General Meetings) held in 2017. The other members of the Executive Committee are appointed by the CEO, after consultation with the Supervisory Board. Board of Management members are appointed for a four-year term (or less), with the possibility of reappointment.
As described later in this section, the Meeting of Holders of Priority Shares has the right to make binding nominations for the appointment of members of the Board of Management and the Supervisory Board. However, as the company subscribes to the principles of the Code in general, members of the Supervisory Board and the Board of Management are (with the exception of those circumstances described later in this section) appointed on the basis of non-binding nominations by the Supervisory Board. In such cases, resolutions to appoint a member of the Supervisory Board or the Board of Management require a simple majority of the votes cast by shareholders.
Under certain conditions specified in the Articles of Association, shareholders may also be entitled to nominate Supervisory Board or Board of Management members for appointment. Such nominations require a two-thirds majority, representing at least 50% of the outstanding share capital, in order to be adopted at an AGM (or EGM).
AkzoNobel believes in the strength of diversity, and in accordance with the Code, a Diversity Policy has been adopted for the composition of the Board of Management and Executive Committee. The objective of the Diversity Policy is to enrich the Board of Management’s perspective, improve performance, increase member value and enhance the probability of achievement of the company’s goals and objectives. The Diversity Policy addresses concrete targets relating to diversity, including nationality, age, gender, education and work background. As part of our commitment to fostering an inclusive and respectful workplace, we introduced training to increase awareness around unconscious bias in the workplace.
A consistent and structured approach is applied to succession planning for the Board of Management and Executive Committee, taking into account the implementation of the Diversity Policy. AkzoNobel currently diverges from the gender target of at least 30% female and at least 30% male Board of Management members. It is believed that due to the size and scale of the Board of Management (being only two members), this divergence is justified and has ensured the best candidates for the roles were nominated by the Supervisory Board and appointed by shareholders. Following the appointment of Joëlle Boxus as the new Chief Human Resources Officer as per March 9, 2020, AkzoNobel has a gender diversity of 33% female representatives at Executive Committee level.
Members of the Executive Committee are not allowed to hold more than one supervisory board membership or non-executive directorship in another listed company. This is more stringent than the requirements of the Dutch Civil Code, which allows members of a board of management to hold two such positions.
The exception to this rule is that in the 18 months prior to their retirement, Executive Committee members are allowed to hold more than one such supervisory board membership or non-executive directorship to allow them to prepare for retirement, as long as this does not interfere with the performance of their tasks as a member of the Executive Committee. Furthermore, an exception can be made for an executive joining the Executive Committee upon approval from the Supervisory Board. However, a maximum of two supervisory board memberships or non-executive directorships will apply. Further information on any outside board positions of the Executive Committee can be found in Our Board of Management and Executive Committee.
Acceptance of external supervisory board memberships or non-executive directorships in other listed companies by members of the Executive Committee is always subject to approval by the Supervisory Board, for which authority has been delegated to the Chairman of the Supervisory Board.
Conflicts of interest
Members of the Board of Management and the other members of the Executive Committee shall not participate in the discussions and decision-making on a subject or transaction in relation to which they have a conflict of interest with the company. Supervisory Board approval is required for decisions to enter into transactions under which Board of Management or Executive Committee members have a conflict of interest of material significance to the company and to the relevant member. Any such decisions involving members of the Board of Management will be recorded in the annual report for the relevant year, with reference to the conflict of interest and declaring that the relevant best practice provisions of the Code have been complied with.
During 2019, no transactions were reported under which a member of the Board of Management or Executive Committee had a conflict of interest which was of material significance to the company and to the relevant member.
The remuneration of the members of the Board of Management is set in line with the Remuneration Policy for the Board of Management, which is approved by the AGM. The Remuneration Policy of the Board of Management will be resubmitted to the 2020 AGM in line with the implementation of the Shareholder Rights Directive II. The Supervisory Board is responsible for determining the remuneration of the members of the Board of Management on the advice of the Remuneration Committee. The components of Board of Management remuneration, as well as the Remuneration Policy of the Board of Management, are described in the Remuneration report.
The service contracts of the members of the Board of Management do contain change of control provisions. Further details can be found in the Remuneration report. The service contracts of the Board of Management are compliant with the Code. The main elements of these contracts are available on our website.
Operational Control Cycle
Executive Committee meetings are frequently held, at which the implementation of the company’s strategy is discussed. Functional agendas are also discussed at these Executive Committee meetings. Additional meetings are held to discuss specific topics as required.
The Board of Management and Executive Committee have delegated authorities to individual Executive Committee members and to certain committees and councils.
To help plan for success and ensure alignment within the entire AkzoNobel organization on the strategic and operational plan, the Board of Management and Executive Committee implemented an Integrated Business Planning (IBP) process across the company’s global businesses and functions. IBP provides, on a monthly basis, visibility on the long-term integrated business and financial plan, which covers the product portfolio, demand and supply. It therefore ensures early attention and remedial actions, where appropriate, on any potential gaps. The monthly IBP cycle ends with the Corporate Management Business Review (CMBR), which is chaired by the CEO. The Executive Committee attends these meetings, where it reviews the consolidated long-term company perspective, including risks and opportunities, decides on escalation and possible scenarios and supervises the key performance indicators with corrective actions, if applicable.
Our Code of Conduct defines our core principles and how we work. It incorporates fundamental principles on issues such as business integrity, labor relations, human rights, health, safety, environment and security and community involvement.
Annual General Meeting of shareholders.
Annual General Meeting of shareholders.