Building A Better Future Together
We recognize the value and importance of incorporating sustainability not only into our direct operations and research efforts but throughout our value chain.
This perspective helps us identify how we can best leverage our influence and create the greatest value to improve efficiency and implement responsible practices.We actively engage with our customers to collaborate on developing products that impart sustainability benefits such as increased durability and energy efficiency. In addition, we support and collaborate with our suppliers to help them in their pursuit of continuous improvement in sustainability performance. Improving the overall impact of our value chain is dependent on our close collaboration with our customers and suppliers. Together, we pursue innovative solutions to improve our collective sustainability performance and address the key sustainability challenges of today’s world.We are building a better future together by:
Oversight of product innovation and development is provided by our chief technology officer in close collaboration with our customer-focused business teams. We also regularly partner with customers to support their goals of developing sustainable products and solutions. Our research and development teams use a stage-gate process to assess the risks associated with the materials we use and produce, with regard to the health, safety and environmental impacts from our own operations as well as the activities of our suppliers and customers. Through this lens, we can make informed decisions about the design and formulation of our products.
Our efforts to maintain compliance with global product requirements is led by regulatory experts and toxicologists within our Product Support and Toxicology department. Our corporate hazard communication program ensures an ongoing review of our product properties as well as compliance with global requirements. We are committed to developing transparent product labeling and sharing comprehensive supporting literature to ensure those who manufacture, transport, store or use our products are prepared to handle the material safely. Training is provided for our employees, customers and distributors, to relay the health and safety aspects of our products as well as the intended uses, ensuring that our materials are handled and used properly.
This commitment to product sustainability extends to our engagement with peer companies in our industries. We have long been a participant and leader in the International Carbon Black Association as well as other industry associations around the world. These engagements provide opportunities to further the understanding of regulatory issues, promote collaboration on expansion of health and safety information, and help ensure the long-term sustainability of our markets.
Our supply chain predominantly consists of suppliers providing raw materials, chemical additives, process equipment, vehicles, packaging materials, logistics services and temporary contractors. The management of these suppliers is overseen by the procurement function, which is organized in teams aligned with our regions, categories and corporate services. Sourcing decisions are guided by an internal supplier qualification process that considers a broad range of criteria, including issues related to sustainability. We also evaluate our critical suppliers using these principles throughout our engagement with them.
All our suppliers are required to acknowledge our Supplier Code of Conduct, which outlines our minimum expectations while encouraging best practices relevant to their business. We reserve the right to conduct audits to verify compliance with this standard, and in the event of a violation, we respond appropriately either through corrective actions or by terminating the business relationship.
With the support of our Executive Committee, the Board of Directors oversees financial performance and strategy, capital structure, and market exposure as well as our company’s overall risk profile. Our comprehensive Enterprise Risk Management program is led by our chief financial officer and reviewed by the Executive Committee before it is presented to the Board of Directors. As part of this process, sustainability-related issues — such as impacts from climate change on our business operations and our markets — are evaluated. Opportunities related to how we can respond to markets seeking more sustainable solutions are also a key factor in our strategic planning.
Our Advancing the Core strategy is designed to extend our leadership in performance materials. We do this by investing for growth in our core businesses, driving application innovation with our customers, and generating strong cash flows through efficiency and optimization. The goal of this strategy is to deliver sustained and attractive total shareholder return, built on earnings growth and a balanced capital allocation framework. This strategy helps ensure that we invest sufficiently in our core businesses to capture opportunities and drive long-term earnings growth while providing our shareholders with a meaningful cash return.
Our investment decisions and growth strategy are guided by an emphasis on sustainable business practices and full compliance with laws, regulations and corporate standards including our Code of Business Ethics. When possible, we also look for opportunities to go beyond the minimum standards.
To ensure the reliability of our financial and strategic planning, we regularly monitor and evaluate both our short- and long-term needs and objectives. Specifically, each quarter we conduct a comprehensive internal review of our financial performance. We also review our financial performance with our Board of Directors on a bimonthly basis. Annually, we develop and review long-range plans, establish performance targets and review business and function budgets.
Our investors and the broader investment community closely evaluate our financial performance, and an independent registered public accounting firm audits our annual financial statements each year.
Advancing Our Customers
We are constantly working with our customers to find innovative solutions that will help them advance their own products. In many cases, this allows us to work with customers who have their own ambitions for sustainability by developing products with superior efficiency, durability, or cutting edge applications like those for renewable energy.