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Case study: How Kernel promotes employee development

Kernel is the world’s largest producer and exporter of sunflower oil, the largest grain exporter from Ukraine, operator of an extensive agricultural logistics network and the largest producer of grain and oilseeds in Ukraine. Kernel treats people as its key competitive advantage, and extensively invests in the development of their hard and soft skills.  Tweet This!

This case study is based on the FY2019 Annual Report by Kernel 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/ ESG/ 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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Kernel’s goal is to find and attract the best people and develop and retain them, to ensure the sustainability of its operations and business model. Accordingly, Kernel has numerous training and education programmes for all its business units and for various professions and career bands, so as to continuously develop human capital within the organisation. In order to promote employee development Kernel took action to:

  • provide professional education
  • offer competency development trainings and one-time educating activities
  • implement corporate modular programmes
  • provide training from internal coaches
  • promote distance learning
  • offer a mentorship programme
  • plan individual development

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its FY2019 Annual Report Kernel identified a range of material issues, such as economic performance, anti-corruption, energy, customer health and safety, biodiversity, occupational health & safety. Among these, promoting employee development stands out as a key material issue for Kernel.

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 reporting organization shall identify its stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to their reasonable expectations and interests.”

Stakeholders must be consulted in the process 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 Kernel engages with:

To identify and prioritise material topics Kernel engaged with its stakeholders through the following channels:

Stakeholder Group                Method of engagement
Employees ·      Kernel reports

·      Website

·      Hotline

·      Social networks

·      Direct engagement

·      External media

·      Corporate newspaper

·      Intranet

·      Events

Management

 

 

·      Kernel reports

·      Website

·      Social networks

·      Direct engagement

·      External media

·      Corporate newspaper

·      Intranet

·      Events

Shareholders

 

 

·      Kernel reports

·      Website

·      Direct engagement

·      Events

Debt providers and rating agencies

 

 

·      Kernel reports

·      Website

·      Direct engagement

·      Events

Suppliers (incl. 3rd party farmers)

 

 

·      Website

·      Social networks

·      Direct engagement

·      Events

Customers ·      Website

·      Social networks

·      Direct engagement

National media

 

·      Website

·      Direct engagement

Local media

 

·      Website

·      Direct engagement

·      Corporate newspaper

Local communities

 

·      Website

·      Hotline

·      Direct engagement

·      External media

·      Corporate newspaper

·      Events

Local officials

 

·      Website

·      Direct engagement

·      External media

·      Corporate newspaper

·      Events

Regulatory authorities

 

·      Website

·      Direct engagement

What actions were taken by Kernel to promote employee development?

In its FY2019 Annual Report Kernel reports that it took the following actions for promoting employee development:

  • Providing professional education
  • Kernel provides professional education focused mainly on agribusiness, where it sees the highest potential for implementing cutting-edge farming approaches in its operations. Based at fully equipped modern training facilities located in several of its farming clusters, Kernel organises module-based practical training programmes taught by local and visiting trainers for its agronomists, engineers and other agribusiness specialists. Similar programmes are also organised for Kernel’s crushing and infrastructure divisions. In FY2019, over 4.2 thousand participants were covered by professional education programmes. Kernel also organises numerous experience-exchange trips in Ukraine and abroad for its specialists, including attendance of exhibitions and site visits.
  • Offering competency development trainings and one-time educating activities
  • Kernel offers ad-hoc competency development trainings tutored mostly by external trainers and organised depending on business needs. In FY2019, more than 0.5 thousand participants attended such programmes. One-time educating activities include master-classes, conferences and seminars led by both internal and external trainers, as well as one-time courses for new managers. In FY2019, almost 0.8 thousand participants subscribed for such activities.
  • Implementing corporate modular programmes
  • Kernel’s corporate modular programmes include corporate MBA and other programmes for executives. First initiated for agri managers and key specialists in 2013, the corporate MBA programme then emerged into 6 separate programmes for oil production, logistics, agriculture and other divisions, educating 0.6 thousand participants in FY2019. Each programme has two workshops per year consisting of case studies, team-based assignments and a final project, and is tutored by lecturers who teach at certified MBA programmes. A special version of Corporate MBA is available to high potential specialists and members of Kernel’s personnel reserve pool. Additionally, each year Kernel organises a one-week on-campus executive education programme in a high-ranked global business school for a group of its top-level executives.
  • Providing training from internal coaches
  • A pool of 31 internal coaches provides various 8- hour-average learning programmes, promoting knowledge and experience sharing within Kernel. The programme was launched in 2017 and proved to be extremely popular, with 1.2 thousand participants attending the trainings in FY2019.
  • Promoting distance learning
  • Kernel’s distance learning options include e-courses, online tests and webinars. The core element here is Kernel Hub, a distance learning and knowledge web/mobile platform. Developed in 2014, the Kernel Hub allows any employee to take hard- and soft-skills learning e-courses, and get access to accumulated in-house expertise and e-books from various fields of personal and professional development. In FY2018, Kernel carried out a pivotal upgrade of the system aimed at further expanding the user base, whose number reached 1 thousand in FY2019.
  • Offering a mentorship programme
  • Kernel offers a mentorship programme designed to accelerate the adaptation of new employees, and develop their hard skills. The programme manager assigns mentors to new employees and structures, formalises and oversees mentor-employee relationships. Mentors get monetary incentives and proper training to improve their coaching skills and ability to provide feedback. First introduced in 2015, the programme has proven to be a useful tool and successfully extended in FY2019, increasing the number of mentors from 74 in FY2017 to 81 in the reporting period. In FY2018, Kernel also launched a mentorship programme designed for soft skills improvement, which now includes 33 mentors and 21 mentees. Both categories received proper training before the launch of the programme: workshops, training for mentors and masterclasses for mentees.
  • Planning individual development
  • Since 2014, Kernel has made progress on implementing a unified approach to planning individual development, the coverage of which increased in FY2019 to 514 employees (vs 180 employees in FY2017), including employees from a central office, and management and key staff from regional branches. The assessment carried out as a part of this programme is used to identify key areas for growth, improve career planning and provide better visibility of the ambitious talent pool, their training needs and prospects.

Which GRI Standards and corresponding Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been addressed?

The GRI Standards addressed in this case are:

1) Disclosure 404-1 Average hours of training per year per employee

2) Disclosure 404-2 Programs for upgrading employee skills and transition assistance programs

3) Disclosure 404-3 Percentage of employees receiving regular performance and career development reviews

 

Disclosure 404-1 Average hours of training per year per employee corresponds to:

Disclosure 404-2 Programs for upgrading employee skills and transition assistance programs corresponds to:

  • Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  • Business theme: Employee training and education 

Disclosure 404-3 Percentage of employees receiving regular performance and career development reviews corresponds to:

 

80% of the world’s 250 largest companies report in accordance with the GRI Standards

SustainCase was primarily created to demonstrate, through case studies, the importance of dealing with a company’s most important impacts in a structured way, with use of the GRI Standards. To show how today’s best-run companies are achieving economic, social and environmental success – and how you can too.

Research by well-recognised institutions is clearly proving that responsible companies can look to the future with optimism.


 

FBRH GRI Standards Certified, IEMA & CIM recognised Sustainability Course | Venue: London LSE

By registering for the next 2-day FBRH GRI Standards Certified, IEMA & CIM recognised course you will be taking the first step in gaining the many benefits of sustainability reporting.

Most importantly, you will gain the knowledge to use the GRI Standards, project manage your own first-class sustainability report and:

  • Identify your most important impacts on the Environment, Economy and Society
  • Begin taking solid, focused, all-round sustainability action ASAP

 

References:

1) This case study is based on published information by Kernel, 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) https://www.globalreporting.org/standards/gri-standards-download-center/

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