A dialogue that is open, regular and based on trust with stakeholder and interest groups forms the foundation for the Haniel CR strategy as well as social acceptance of the entrepreneurial decisions. At the same time, these exchanges provide important stimulus for the further development of the sustainability management. Both the holding company and the divisions maintain a continual dialogue with their stakeholders. In addition to personal discussions with partners in the day-to-day operations, the holding company has established various formats for the relevant stakeholder groups: owners and lenders, for example receive comprehensive and prompt information in the 'Family Call', the investor call or the annual accounts press conference. Well-trained employees are a prerequisite for a company's long-term success. That is why human resources development, staff retention and identification are key elements of the human resources strategy, which require continual exchanges with the employees. Opportunities for this are offered by the annual staff dialogue, management conferences and the staff survey, which the holding company conducts every two years.
Systematic stakeholder dialogue
The Haniel holding company conducted a systematic analysis of the expectations and requirements of the stakeholders for the first time in the spring of 2013. What priorities should Haniel set in the area of corporate responsibility? What implementation principles and structures encourage the anchoring of CR? To what extent would the stakeholders like to be involved in the CR activities? Supported by a standardised interview guide, over 40 personal interviews were held with representatives of the most important stakeholder groups. For this purpose, the holding company had identified seven core groups in advance. The key factor was who exerted an influence on the business activities and, conversely, who is affected by the impacts of the business activities.
As representatives of the holding company's internal perspectives, the Haniel Management Board, directors of the corporate departments, selected executive and non-executive staff and the works council as the employees' representative were surveyed. Representatives of the divisions supplemented the view of the holding company from outside. They play a significant role in Haniel's creation of value, as they are themselves responsible for the operating business and interact in their respective markets with numerous other actors – such as customers and suppliers. Members of the management or management board and the CR managers were surveyed. In addition to the shareholders, who as investors with a long term perspective are committed to the Haniel family's understanding of values, banking partners as lenders of capital and trade associations in the local and regional environment around the Haniel holding company rounded off the external perspective.
Expectations of stakeholders
With the aim of guaranteeing the company's long-term success and of differentiating it from the competition, the stakeholders demand that CR is consistently anchored in the core business. As a family-owned company, Haniel is already afforded a 'natural' starting advantage as a result of the focus on values that has already been embodied for so long – and at the same time it is associated with high demands: the stakeholders expect the holding company to play a driving role in the area of corporate responsibility. With limitations, however, that are owed to the particular characteristics of the Haniel Group. On account of the diversified portfolio and the decentralised organisational structure, the holding company only sets the contents of the CR priorities. These are intended to serve as general action areas, which, however, allow sufficient latitude so that the divisions can pursue their own targets sensibly tailored to their individual core business. As a consequence of the stakeholders' expectations, the holding company in 2013 developed the CR management approach and created the CR organisation structure for its successful implementation.
Building on the results of the first survey, the Haniel Management Board and the directors of the corporate departments were surveyed in the summer of 2015 once again in order to flesh out in more detail the CR target image and to prioritise the relevant issues in the action areas. In addition, corporate responsibility was the subject of the 2015 Haniel family’s youth meeting, where the employees of the holding company gave the representatives of the owner family insights into the various spheres of responsibility of the corporate departments.