Excellence is our Passion

Saturday 31 May 2014, by aidaas4, martagm, norah

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Henkel is a company that operates in three business areas: Laundry & home care, beauty care and adhesive technologies. Henkel was founded in 1876, when it started with home care and laundry business, and at the moment it holds a huge market position both in consumer and industrial businesses with it’s well-known brands such as Schwarzkopf and Persil. It develops, produces and sells numerous brands and products for beauty and personal care worldwide. It is also a market leader in adhesives, sealants and functional coatings for consumers, craftsmen and industrial applications. This is quite a range of products for one corporation.

In Henkel’s website you can see their new strategy which is built on the foundation of their corporate values and which will drive their successful development in the coming years. What they seem to want is a long-term vision – “to become a global leader in brands and technologies”. The strategy is based on four strategic priorities: outperform, globalize, simplify and inspire. The thing that really makes you interested in these big words is the promise of focusing on “the entire organization” which is one of the most important key elements in becoming as an ethical company.

We are not interested in their profit maximizing here. What we are interested in, is how do they grow their businesses and make profits taking into account also the ethical point of view? As any other company, also Henkel includes commitment to leadership in sustainability in their corporate values. They are promising sustainable development while increasing economic success and growing businesses. What is really valuable here to see in these promises is the company’s focus on intensifying their collaboration with partners and the company’s attempt to improve communication tools to keep the discussion open. But is this just a way to prove the customers you are ethical and doing good, or do they actually have implications to show us?

Henkel is really doing what every company should do. Companies should take action as a result of their approaches to issues, since they seem to have the effectiveness over the governments in ethical issues nowadays. In the website Henkel gives you the belief that they are interested in ecological and social impacts that their businesses have on society, and one real proof of that is that they are strictly rejecting all corruption. As a company that makes beauty products and deals with chemicals, Henkel has health and environmental matters relating to the production. At the moment, they are debating about developing alternatives to animal testing. They started to produce toluene free products to prevent health issues. Also to deal with raw materials and other ingredients considered as "bad”, it is a must to have strict package design and detailed instructions for use. The company also wants to make sure, that whenever palm oil and palm kernel oil are used in their production, they should be derived from sustainably cultivated sources, taking the issues very seriously. Since they purchase surfactants from raw material suppliers, they are at the end of a long supply chain, and that’s why they have an actual opportunity to provide support for sustainable palm oil production.

Of course, there is a lot to improve as we all have. For example, they haven’t completely rejected animal testing, since “it is unfortunately not possible today to avoid” it. But why are we still considering this company ethical? You may not trust that all they say in the website (it seems that they do have a lot to say) will be true and the most efficient way to be ethical, but you never should take those things for granted anyway. But still, what they do is to encourage the company itself and others to take both individual responsibility and motivation into consideration, and have an open dialogue with stakeholders, consumers and shareholders or with anyone else who has something to say. So far, they have actually convinced the competitors to use the safer method (cyclohexane) and supported and actively participated in the cause too. What we honestly think here, this company may have fancy words and complex development plans which are difficult to understand and implement, but at least they admit the issues - not deny- and are happy and motivated to go further with being ethical and sharing experiences, debates and implementations.

What has been happening with Henkel - just a few examples to start with.

• In 1958, for instance, Henkel’s research systematically studied washing active substances in surface waters, which led to the development of low-foam surfactants.
• Henkel recognized for leadership in sustainability (for the 7th consecutive year).
• Company has an ecology department from as long ago as 1953 to assess the environmental impact of its products.
• From 1998 to 2007, they have reduced energy consumption by 40%. With the savings in energy consumption, they have also been able to reduce the associated carbon dioxide emissions by 33 percent.
• Henkel received the Gold Class award in the Sustainability Yearbook 2014

For the future, by 2030, Henkel goals are to triple the value it creates for the footprint made by its operations, products and services. Over the past eleven years, Henkel has been working on cutting water and energy consumption by 51 percent and 44 percent per ton of production, respectively, and has reduced waste by 47 percent per ton of production. During the same period, the number of work accidents dropped by 90 percent. Henkel is working on achieving a future where no waste is done and ethic business can walk together with profits and development.

In Henkel’s website you can find more information about their sustainability reports, news, rewards, projects and much more.




Location: Düsseldorf (Germany)

Sector: Manufacturing

Official website: www.henkel.com

Key figures:

Headquartered in Düsseldorf, Germany
47,000 employees worldwide
Most internationally aligned German-based companies in the global marketplace.

In year 2012:
Sales rise 5.8 percent to 16,510 million euros (organic: +3.8%) and operating profit (adjusted for one-time charges/gains and restructuring charges) was +15.1 percent to 2,335 million euros. Also strong performance in the emerging markets (organic: +7.8%).

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