The case for CSR/ Sustainability Reporting Done Responsibly


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Case study: How Air Products promotes business integrity

As a world-leading industrial gases company operating in 50 countries, with 170,000 customers and 16,000 employees, providing atmospheric and process gases and related equipment to manufacturing markets, including refining and petrochemical, metals, electronics and food and beverage, behaving ethically, responsibly and with integrity as a core value is a top priority for Air Products  Tweet This!.

This case study is based on the 2017 Sustainability Report by Air Products published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate what CSR/ sustainability reporting done responsibly means. Essentially, it means: a) identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment, economy and society, and b) measuring, managing and changing.

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Abstract

Operating for over 75 years, Air Products is the world’s leading supplier of liquefied natural gas process technology and equipment. Making sure it operates ethically and with integrity is, thus, a key priority. In order to promote business integrity Air Products took action to:

  • provide guidance through the “Commit to Integrity” ethics and compliance program
  • promote ethical behavior through the Employee Code of Conduct
  • provide anti-bribery and anti-corruption training
  • offer mechanisms for reporting violations of integrity

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2017 Sustainability Report Air Products identified a range of material issues, such as economic performance, product offerings with sustainability benefits, GHG reductions, water conservation, talent management, community relations and support. Among these, promoting business integrity stands out as a key material issue for Air Products.

Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:

“The organization should identify its stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to their reasonable expectations.”

Stakeholders must be consulted in the process s of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.

Key stakeholder groups Air Products engages with:

Stakeholder Group
Customers
Employees
Investors
Communities
Suppliers
Governments and Regulators

How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues

To identify and prioritize material issues, Air Products interviewed key stakeholders who included members of its Board of Directors, customers, investors and suppliers. Additionally, Air Products reached out to community members in person and through surveys, to identify and understand their concerns.

What actions were taken by Air Products to promote business integrity?

In its 2017 Sustainability Report Air Products reports that it took the following actions for promoting business integrity:

  • Providing guidance through the “Commit to Integrity” ethics and compliance program
  • Air Products’ “Commit to Integrity” program provides practical guidance for managing company risks and compliance. The program comprises the company’s Code of Conduct document and related policies, standards and guidelines, as well as ongoing learning opportunities and communications.
  • Promoting ethical behavior through the Employee Code of Conduct
  • Air Products’ Employee Code of Conduct is available in 23 different languages. It applies to employees of all entities controlled by the company. All employees must comply with the Code of Conduct. Employees also receive mandatory training on the Code, delivered in local languages. In addition, Air Products has established a goal for 2020 that requires 100% of employees to be trained in, and certified to, the Employee Code of Conduct.
  • Providing anti-bribery and anti-corruption training
  • Depending on the position they hold and their location, employees receive Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)/Anti-bribery training. Air Products broadened this training to also include global anti-bribery and anti- corruption (ABAC) awareness. Accordingly, 96% of employees with this obligation have completed the ABAC training. Both of these training sessions are available in 16 languages.
  • Offering mechanisms for reporting violations of integrity
  • Air Products has various mechanisms for reporting possible violations of integrity and other corporate policies, thefts, workplace violence and regulatory inquiries. These include the company’s IntegrityLine (for reporting allegations of misconduct via phone or online) and the IntegrityOnline website, for directions for reporting misconduct in the languages most commonly spoken by employees. All allegations are properly reviewed and closed.

Which GRI indicators/Standards have been addressed?

The GRI indicators/Standards addressed in this case are:

1) G4-56: Describe the organization’s values, principles, standards and norms of behavior such as codes of conduct and codes of ethics – the updated GRI Standard is: Disclosure 102-16 Values, principles, standards, and norms of behavior

2) G4-57: Report the internal and external mechanisms for seeking advice on ethical and lawful behavior, and matters related to organizational integrity, such as helplines or advice lines – the updated GRI Standard is: Disclosure 102-17 Mechanisms for advice and concerns about ethics

3) G4-58: Report the internal and external mechanisms for reporting concerns about unethical or unlawful behavior, and matters related to organizational integrity, such as escalation through line management, whistleblowing mechanisms or hotlines – the updated GRI Standard is: Disclosure 102-17 Mechanisms for advice and concerns about ethics

4) G4-SO3: Total number and percentage of operations assessed for risks related to corruption and the significant risks identifiedthe updated GRI Standard is: Disclosure 205-1 Operations assessed for risks related to corruption

5) G4-SO4: Communication and training on anti-corruption policies and proceduresthe updated GRI Standard is: Disclosure 205-2 Communication and training about anti-corruption policies and procedures

 

References:

1) This case study is based on published information by Air Products, located at the link below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses. However, we made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning. If you would like to quote these written sources from the original, please revert to the original on the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Disclosure Database at the link:

http://database.globalreporting.org/

2) http://www.fbrh.co.uk/en/global-reporting-initiative-gri-g4-guidelines-download-page

3) https://g4.globalreporting.org/Pages/default.aspx

4) https://www.globalreporting.org/standards/gri-standards-download-center/

Note to Air Products: With each case study we send out an email requesting a comment on this case study. If you have not received such an email please contact us.

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