Note 14: Community

As a global company, we fully understand our role and responsibilities when it comes to society and contributing to the communities in which we operate. All our community activities are guided by our Human Cities initiative. It also provides direction for our partnerships and helps us make informed decisions about sponsorship agreements.

Whenever possible, we try to make a positive difference to the world around us. We engage with people and partner with various organizations to help bring the AkzoNobel brand to life, while also supporting deserving and sustainable projects and causes, using our products when appropriate.

A big success story is our global “Let’s Colour” program, which inspires people to revitalize their local communities with our paint products. Run by our Decorative Paints business, the initiative also encourages the active participation of our employees around the world.

Another vital part of our partnership approach is the development of young people, highlighted by our work with the Plan organization, which includes the AkzoNobel Education Fund. Meanwhile, our global sponsorship program is currently focused on key partnerships with the Johan Cruyff Foundation, the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum in the Netherlands, and the Extreme Sailing Series.

Our products

When possible, we endeavor to assist society through our products. Ferrazone, for example, is helping to improve well-being in many communities, particularly in developing countries. Used to fortify food, it is widely regarded as being the most effective way to treat iron deficiency anemia.

Another example is our partnership with the Forest Stewardship Counsil (FSC) in relation to our woodcare products. See Note 3 in this section for more details.

“Let’s Colour” program

Let's Colour (line chart)

“Let’s Colour” is our employee-led , which is based on our belief in the transformative power of color. We donate paint and organize projects for community groups, charities and individuals who have the desire and determination to make a difference through color. By revamping grey and unappealing spaces into bright and colorful environments, our goal is to bring happiness to the lives of people everywhere.

As part of AkzoNobel’s Human Cities initiative, the “Let’s Colour” program highlights the important role color can play in making cities more vibrant, inspiring and human. In August, for example, 450 volunteers took part in one of the biggest “Let’s Colour” events ever staged by the company’s Decorative Paints business. Around 20,000 liters of Coral (AkzoNobel’s paint brand in Brazil) was used to transform more than 300 buildings in Rio de Janeiro’s famous Santa Marta favela.

Education is also a key component of the “Let’s Colour” program. This is achieved through paint apprenticeships, which combine our desire to bring color to communities – via schools, hospitals and other public places – with a commitment to train local people (often from disadvantaged backgrounds) in the skills of painting and decorating.

During 2015, we donated more than 115,000 liters of paint, worth an estimated €0.5 million. Approximately 1,000 AkzoNobel employees were involved, volunteering more than 8,000 hours of their time to various “Let’s Colour” projects across the globe. We also trained 4,250 people in painting and estimate that we positively impacted the lives of around five million people in 2015 alone.

Community Program

Community program (line chart)Community program (line chart)

Our Community Program encourages sites and individuals to take part in projects where our products, and the skills and knowledge of employees, can benefit the wider community on a sustainable basis. In the past ten years, the initiative has been firmly embedded in our worldwide organization.

Projects have included employee involvement in the redecoration of schools, community centers, shelters and daycare centers for the homeless. Other projects have focused on vocational training for the reintegration of unemployed youngsters, women and the disabled, as well as enhancing awareness among children and boosting their interest in chemistry and science. All of these community activities are taking place in various parts of the world and contribute to creating more human cities.

Cumulative involvement
Cumulative data, since 2005

Employees and community – Cumulative Community Program involvement (bar chart)Employees and community – Cumulative Community Program involvement (bar chart)

Approximately 16,400 volunteers from around 55 countries have worked on 2,385 projects since the launch of the program in 2005. It was another successful year in 2015, with more people having benefited. Community Program projects are increasingly being organized as a team building activity, which contributes to employee engagement, team spirit and our company value of Winning together.

The Community Program also provides opportunities for employees to develop their capabilities and discover hidden talents. In training programs and international conferences, community activities are increasingly becoming part of the agenda, which in turn increases the participants’ awareness of local circumstances.

During 2015, 125 new projects were initiated. Some examples are briefly described below.

In Brazil, employees from Pulp and Performance Chemicals in Jundiaí again teamed up with their Surface and Polymer Chemistry colleagues from Itupeva. They helped transform a former poultry stable into a community center for homeless and female (former) drug addicts. In China, 60 employees from Powder Coatings and Specialty Chemicals sites in Boxing and Tianjin joined their Decorative Paints colleagues from Langfang to repaint Ruicong Training & Special School and organize activities for its deaf children.

2015 projects by region

Employees and community – 2015 projects by region (pie chart)Employees and community – 2015 projects by region (pie chart)

Moved by the plight of refugees, various teams in Germany and the Netherlands decided to give extra support by organizing educational visits, cultural outings and reading sessions to enhance language knowledge and skills for migrant children and adults. Many similar and successful joint initiatives took place all over the world.

To celebrate the Community Program’s tenth anniversary, the ten best projects from 2015 will be selected and recognized in early 2016.

Education Fund

What would a city be without the people who live there? AkzoNobel is proud to be associated with a variety of organizations and initiatives in ways that truly make a positive difference. These partnerships allow us to bring the AkzoNobel brand to life and create value for our stakeholders. One of our flagship partnerships is with the Plan organization in the Netherlands – a member of the Plan International network – a collaboration which marked its 20th anniversary in 2014. The cooperation was established to help children in developing countries fulfil their potential by improving the quality of their education. It has since evolved to also support the employability of young people via vocational training programs designed to set them on a proper career path. Over the years, tens of thousands of young people have benefited from dozens of projects in countries such as Bolivia, Brazil, China, Ecuador, India, the Philippines and Vietnam. During 2015, we worked together with Plan Nederland and our Coral decorative paints brand to support a project which involved training deprived young people in Natal, Brazil, to benefit from life skills training and vocational training to become painters.

Other partnerships

Our work with the Cruyff Foundation is designed to support projects that make sport more accessible to children around the world. As one of their top partners and preferred paint supplier, we help the Foundation to create and maintain facilities in neighborhoods where children lack the possibility to play sports in a safe environment. During 2015, seven new Cruyff Courts were built using our products, including one in Argentina, one in India and two in the Netherlands.

Also during 2015, the Van Gogh Museum opened its new entrance hall, which features a number of AkzoNobel products. Brought together by our Sikkens Decorative Paints colleagues, the Autobase Plus, Car Refinishes Benelux team worked closely with Interpon powder coatings to reproduce specific colors requested by the entrance hall’s architect. We also continued our support of the museum’s Restoration Studio by helping to digitally restore Van Gogh’s famous Field of Irises. We are employing the same technology and techniques regularly used by our Vehicle Refinishes business to calculate color recipes and accurately match different car colors. The work will help to reveal what the renowned masterpiece would have looked like when the artist first painted it over 125 years ago. The project should be finished by mid-2016.

One of our more recent partnerships is with the Extreme Sailing Series – a global racing circuit which attracts larger audiences as the action takes place closer to shore. The Extreme 40 catamarans that participate use our Awlgrip yacht coatings, which offer a number of important benefits, including superior performance and aesthetics. Now in its second year, close to 100 customers from all our businesses attended events which were staged around the world at host cities including Istanbul, St. Petersburg, Sydney and Muscat.

Community Program

AkzoNobel’s global Community Program encourages and gives financial support for employees to get involved, hands-on, in their local communities.


Health, safety and environment.

Community Program

AkzoNobel’s global Community Program encourages and gives financial support for employees to get involved, hands-on, in their local communities.