This section provides an overview of the responsibilities and governance of the Supervisory Board. For an understanding of the activities of the Supervisory Board over the past year, please refer to the Supervisory Board Chairman’s statement and the Report of the Supervisory Board.
The responsibility of the Supervisory Board is to supervise the policies adopted by the Board of Management and the Executive Committee and to oversee the general conduct of the business of the company. In practice, this means supervising the corporate strategy, the achievement of the company’s operational and financial objectives, the design and effectiveness of the internal risk management and control systems, the main financial parameters, compliance with applicable laws and regulations and risk factors. The Supervisory Board advises the Board of Management and Executive Committee, while taking into account the interests of the company and its stakeholders. Major investments, acquisitions and functional initiatives are subject to Supervisory Board approval.
The Chairman of the Supervisory Board determines the agenda, chairs Supervisory Board meetings and the AGM, monitors the proper functioning of the Supervisory Board and its committees, arranges for adequate provision of information to its members and acts on behalf of the Supervisory Board as the main contact for the Board of Management and Executive Committee. He initiates the evaluation of the functioning of the Supervisory Board, its committees, individual members and the functioning of the Board of Management. Throughout the year, the Chairman of the Supervisory Board ensures that regular updates are provided to the Supervisory Board on the company’s businesses, sustainability, legal matters, social and corporate governance, accounting, investor relations, compliance, risk management and internal controls. The Supervisory Board is governed by its Rules of Procedure (available on the corporate website). The Rules of Procedure include the profile and the Charters of the Committees and set out the tasks and responsibilities of the Supervisory Board, as well as its operational processes.
The list of Supervisory Board members, including their biographies, can be found in the Leadership section. In compliance with the Dutch Civil Code, the Supervisory Board has a balanced composition, consisting of at least 30% female and at least 30% male members, reflecting the nature and variety of the company’s businesses, their international spread and expertise in fields such as finance, economics, information technology (IT), societal, environmental and legal aspects of business, government and public administration. Consequently, the current members represent four nationalities and have a diverse and appropriate experience with the markets in which AkzoNobel operates, as well as knowledge of different markets and non-operational areas. Their expertise includes finance, economics, international business, general and strategic management, employment and industrial relations, risk management, IT, commercial management, business-to-business sales, research and development, manufacturing and the societal, environmental and legal aspects of business, government, investor relations and public administration. The Supervisory Board maintains a skills matrix, which provides an overview of the skills and experience of individual Supervisory Board members. The Supervisory Board skills matrix can be found in the Report of the Supervisory Board. In addition, in accordance with the Code, a Diversity Policy has been adopted for the composition of the Supervisory Board. The objective of the Diversity Policy is to ensure a balanced composition, taking account of nationality, age, gender, education and work background. During 2017, the Diversity Policy was implemented through the Supervisory Board’s consistent and structured approach to succession planning. There are no divergences to report. The Diversity Policy can be found within the Supervisory Board’s Rules of Procedures on the corporate website.
When nominating and selecting new candidates for the Supervisory Board, the Supervisory Board profile and skills matrix, the requirements of the Act on Management and Supervision, and the principles and provisions of the Code, are taken into account.
Members of the Supervisory Board are nominated, appointed and dismissed in accordance with procedures identical to those previously outlined for the members of the Board of Management. In accordance with the Code, the Rules of Procedure of the Supervisory Board have been updated such that Supervisory Board members are eligible for re-election once for a period not exceeding four years. Thereafter, members may be re-elected a second time for a period of two years. This period may be extended by two years at the most. In the event of a re-appointment after an eight-year period, reasons shall be given in the Report of the Supervisory Board. Terms of appointment are based on a rotation schedule, available on the corporate website. In 2017, three appointments to the Supervisory Board were proposed to, and approved by, the Extraordinary General Meeting of shareholders held on November 30.
Induction and training
Following appointment to the Supervisory Board, new members receive a comprehensive induction tailored to their individual needs. This includes extensive briefings about all major business and functional aspects of the company and its corporate governance and compliance requirements. The induction includes meetings with the CEO, the CFO, all other Executive Committee members and relevant members of senior management. This enables new Supervisory Board members to quickly build up an understanding of AkzoNobel’s businesses and strategy, as well as the key risks and issues the company faces. In addition, the Chairman ensures the Supervisory Board is provided with regular updates and that the Supervisory Board undertakes training, for example in the area of compliance and ethics.
Independence of the Supervisory Board
Supervisory Board members are required to act critically and independently of one another, the Board of Management, the Executive Committee and the company’s stakeholders. Each member of the Supervisory Board meets the independence requirements as stated in the Code and has completed the annual independence questionnaire addressing the relevant requirements for independence.
To this end, the company takes steps to verify that:
- There are no cross ties between Supervisory Board members and members of the Board of Management
- There have been no employment relationships between Supervisory Board members and AkzoNobel during the five years preceding their last appointment
- No personal financial compensation has been paid, other than in relation to work as a Supervisory Board member
- No Supervisory Board member has had important business relationships with the company in the year prior to their last appointment
- There are no significant shareholding ties (amounting to more than 10% of the share capital of the company) between Supervisory Board members or their closely associated persons and the company
Conflict of interest
Members of the Supervisory Board 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. Decisions to enter into transactions under which Supervisory Board members have conflicts of interest that are of material significance to the company, and to the relevant Supervisory Board member, require the approval of the Supervisory Board. Any such decisions will be recorded in the annual report for the relevant year, with reference to the conflict of interests and a declaration that the relevant best practice provisions of the Code have been complied with. During 2017, no transactions were reported under which a member had a conflict of interest which was of material significance to the company.
Supervisory Board members receive a fixed annual remuneration and attendance fee, which is determined by the AGM. More information on the remuneration of the members of the Supervisory Board can be found in Note 23 of the Consolidated financial statements.
Annual General Meeting of shareholders.