Our sustainable development framework

Our sustainable development framework is designed to drive and shape a consistent approach to social and environmental trends across all our operations, whilst at the same time giving each country the flexibility to make the outcomes relevant to their local circumstances.

A leadership agenda throughout the company

Our 10 sustainable development outcomes provide the focus for a key corporate leadership agenda across the business. In 2015, we identified senior individuals within the company to act as corporate ‘sponsors’ of each outcome. These are ambassadors who champion their outcome at senior management level, providing direction and bringing together key people to guide us on how to improve the group’s performance.

Working with these sponsors, we tackle strategic issues for each outcome within the relevant leadership groups in the existing business structure. Where such a group is lacking, we have formed working groups to drive the outcome forward. For example, to ensure we have ‘supply chains our customers can trust’ (outcome 7) we have brought together senior people in marketing, procurement, and a range of technical functions, to pursue this objective.

With our sponsors, and within these leadership groups, we are developing a way to define and measure progress against each outcome, and consider targets to aim for.

Understanding stakeholder expectations

Assessing the expectations of our stakeholders is a key part of this framework at country level, and at regional and global levels too. This means not only talking to our stakeholders, but listening, learning, and responding as well. This is essential, and we have seen important value created when we have understood and responded to our stakeholders’ expectations. For example, anticipating the needs of government and communities in Liberia in the face of the Ebola outbreak prompted us to form the Ebola Private Sector Mobilisation Group in 2014. Conversely, when we have failed to manage expectations, our business has suffered disruptions.

We are constantly engaging with key stakeholders outside the business – NGOs, customers and thought leaders, as well as our own employees – listening to their priorities, refining our approach in response, and reporting on our progress against the 10 outcomes. We have been pleased with how our sustainable development framework, founded on the 10 outcomes, has been received. In September 2015, we won the Steelie’s sustainability award, the top accolade for our industry in this area.

Country-based assessments

This stakeholder-centric approach is also a key component of our country-based assessments structured around the 10 outcomes.

We have been developing a tool for this: a ‘dashboard’ for each of the 10 outcomes in each country enables us to map the issues that could cause disruptions to, or create opportunities for, our business. As a result, we can assess the maturity and progress of our operations against each outcome. Together, these dashboards enable us to spot trends in the business, and enable countries to share best practice and exchange any lessons learned.

Senior managers at country level have begun to use their ‘dashboards’ to identify how they are preparing for the long-term trends affecting their markets and responding to the expectations their stakeholders have of our business. They are using this analysis to develop sustainable development objectives and ensure these are a key part of their business plans. And from 2016, all countries report on sustainable development according to the 10 outcomes.

Engaging the country-level leadership teams is essential to this process. Our corporate responsibility/sustainability team works alongside senior managers in each country of major operation to support them in establishing the most effective way to do this. In some cases, this has involved creating a new sustainable development committee, and in others making better use of their existing cross-functional meetings. Each of these country-level sustainable development fora oversees progress towards the 10 outcomes.

Our materiality story

Read about Our materiality story

Our materiality story