Note 1: Employees

As part of our 2025 ambitions, we want to be top quartile in our organizational health score (OHI) and have at least 30% female executives in the company.

Attracting, developing and retaining talent

In 2020, we continued to receive recognition as a leading employer in many of our key countries, including Brazil, China, France, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, the UK and the US.

As part of our ongoing journey to build a sustainable and diverse leadership pipeline, we focused on identifying and planning development actions for our top talent. This included agile talent redeployment across businesses, roll-out of our “Grow to lead” talent program and succession planning at top levels of the company. Overall employee turnover in 2020 was 13% (2019: 14%); voluntary turnover was 5% (2019: 7%). As we continued our transformation journey, we also saw the impact of uncertainty caused by COVID-19, especially in lower voluntary turnover.

Capability building to drive our 2020 ambitions

To support our employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, we offered several educational resources around mental health, resilience and social and emotional skills. We also accelerated our ambition to future-proof all learning solutions by redesigning our classroom-based learning to include digital versions, as well as ensuring our internal trainers are skilled in virtual delivery.

We continue to deploy our Leadership Essentials program across the company to provide people managers with the right tools to build a high-performing culture within their teams.

Strong progress on diversity and inclusion

We’re developing an increasingly engaged, diverse and capable workforce, with a focus on ensuring management teams reflect the diversity of our employees. We made significant progress in 2020 on our key diversity and inclusion (D&I) commitments. We completed the roll-out of our online D&I training curriculum – designed to increase awareness around unconscious bias in the workplace – and launched the “I Belong” inclusive leadership guide to help people managers lead in an inclusive way. We also introduced monthly D&I broadcasts covering gender diversity, race and ethnicity, people with diverse abilities and LGBTI+ inclusion.

Thierry Vanlancker signing the Declaration of Amsterdam (photo)

During the year, our CEO, Thierry Vanlancker, signed the Declaration of Amsterdam. Organized by Workplace Pride, signing the declaration is a visible and very positive way to show our support for LGBTI+ inclusion.

We don’t tolerate discrimination in any form, including racism. In 2020, events in the US and around the world stimulated even more self-reflection from our side. We have held – and will continue to hold – people accountable. Taking a stand is a beginning, but we know it will require ongoing attention and dedication.

Our global Women Inspired Network has grown significantly since its launch in early 2020, with various local chapters being established. Meanwhile, our True Colors network – focused on leading inclusion for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex colleagues – continued to grow. We signed the Declaration of Amsterdam and also participated in the Workplace Pride Benchmark – in which we were recognized for notable performance in awareness and engagement.

The launch of our program to strengthen the senior female leadership pipeline – an area where we’re still facing challenges to deliver meaningful improvements – was a substantial part of our commitment to increase the percentage of female leaders to 30% by 2025. We introduced a D&I scorecard and action plan for all our business units and functional management teams, and launched different development options for women with leadership potential. We also collaborated with the European Round Table (ERT), having submitted a case study around Increasing Female Representation at Senior Executive levels. This was part of their #EmbraceDifference pledge, signed by our Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Nils Smedegaard Andersen. Our close link with the ERT opened up discussions around race and ethnicity in the workplace and we proactively took a stand, incorporating it in our D&I focus for 2021.

Organizational health score (OHI)

Organizational health score (logo)

Female executives in %

Female executives (logo)

Change management key to a healthy organization

Our ambitious Winning together: 15 by 20 transformation was successfully realized by the end of the year, with some projects set to continue during 2021. We’re now preparing to embark on a new journey to support our Grow & Deliver strategy. The right balance between performance and organizational health will be an instrumental part of that journey to ensure that our transformation has a lasting impact. A more detailed account of how we achieved our Winning together: 15 by 20 ambition section.

Our organizational health continued to be surveyed in 2020, with all employees asked for their input. This resulted in an organizational health score (OHI) of 69 (2019: 61), taking the overall company score to the second quartile. In total, 87% of employees indicated they really care about the company, with 86% willing to go beyond what’s normally expected to help AkzoNobel be successful. Based on insights from 2019’s survey, we developed a program for leadership teams to support their transformation journey in making us a high-performing organization. Due to COVID-19, we made a significant part of this program virtual to make it easier to manage teams at a distance. Along with various initiatives, this led to an overall top decile OHI score for the executive group. The OHI scores for our middle management, individual contributors and frontline personnel also improved significantly. However, the gap between these groups and the very high scoring executive population increased. We’ll address this in our future planning.

As our journey continues, we’ve updated our behaviors to better reflect and support our Grow & Deliver strategy and company purpose. An implementation plan is in place, providing a toolkit for managers. We’ll evaluate the adoption rate and progress at the end of 2021.