Our Employees

At Koppers, our ability to positively impact our communities and our planet starts with investing in our people. We put the health, safety, and well-being of our employees at the forefront of everything we do as part of our Zero Harm / Zero Waste culture. Our people-focused strategy considers all aspects of the employee experience, from hiring practices and onboarding to health and wellness and talent management.

We seek to create and foster an inclusive and welcoming culture where all employees feel empowered and can directly impact and share in the organization’s success. Key to this effort is delivering a consistent onboarding experience, as well as communications and safety training in all facilities across the globe.

At the end of 2018, our workforce included 1,028 salaried employees and 1,201 non-salaried employees. Approximately 550 of our employees are represented by a number of different labor unions and are covered under numerous labor agreements.

Workforce Breakdown

Business Salaried Non-Salaried Total
Railroad and Utility Products and Services 378 810 1,188
Performance Chemicals 244 136 380
Carbon Materials and Chemicals 291 244 535
Administration 115 11 126
Total Employees 1,028 1,021 2,229


Health and Wellness

Koppers believes a robust wellness program that encourages employee participation is key to promoting healthy lifestyles and decision-making.

Our U.S.-based employees have the opportunity to learn more about their own health by participating in our wellness screening program. As part of this program, employees can earn monetary incentives for completing a variety of wellness initiatives. To encourage participation, CEO Leroy Ball also issues a personal wellness challenge to all Koppers employees. All locations that achieve at least a 50 percent participation rate in our wellness screenings are eligible to elect a representative to send to our corporate headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Chosen participants meet with leaders, take part in unique development opportunities and are recognized for their efforts in supporting our wellness initiatives.

Understanding the importance of supporting employees in all aspects of their lives, we provide an Employee Assistance Program with a full range of resources including financial wellness, mental health and family services. Koppers also introduced a parental bonding leave program in the U.S., offering four weeks of paid time-off for mothers and fathers who have a birth or adoption.

Koppers encourages employee participation in the company’s success through a strong 401(k) program and a stock purchase program. The U.S. 401(k) program includes both traditional matching and an additional non-elective company contribution based on organizational goals and targets. When employees help the company achieve these targets, this triggers an additional contribution to their accounts.

We are also proud to offer our employees Koppers stock through an employee purchase program. Now in its second full year, the program gives our employees the opportunity to buy shares at a discount through payroll deduction during defined offering periods.

Talent Management

Through ongoing dialog with employees, we identified the need to provide a more consistent and comprehensive on-boarding and safety training experience for new hires across all facilities. In 2018, we began building an interactive, web-based training program backed by a communications strategy. This program ensures every employee receives the same messaging from their first day onward. Beginning in 2019, the new on-boarding process will include regular follow-up communications to all new hires during their first six months of employment. This touchpoint will allow us to solicit feedback about the onboarding and training experience and identify opportunities for improvement.

In addition to our onboarding improvements, we are studying ways to better screen for at-risk behaviors prior to hiring. By better understanding the behavior traits of our candidates and employees, we can better match prospective associates with roles where they can avoid workplace injuries and be successful. We can also use behavioral data to identify opportunities to provide effective and individualized training and onboarding.

As part of our regular performance development process, we ask employees and managers to meet on a periodic basis throughout the year to discuss what is needed for them to be successful in their roles. A few years ago we replaced traditional annual reviews that look back on the past 12 months with a new process that involves two-way discussions throughout the year focused on fostering new ideas and ways to meet personal and professional goals.

The company fosters innovation and our next wave of talent within the Koppers Leadership Forum, an intensive 9-month program developed in partnership with Robert Morris University. Approximately 10-12 people are chosen for each cohort from across the globe. Participants travel to the corporate headquarters to take part in workshops facilitated by university professors and business leaders.

Koppers employees provide direct feedback to leadership as part of the company’s annual engagement survey. The heavily promoted survey program features a 70 percent participation rate – notable considering the varied locations and geographies of employees – and includes follow-up communications on action plans to address areas of focus.

Fostering Diversity and Inclusion

We are committed to supporting diversity and inclusion in our company and in our communities through a range of strategic programs. It is a targeted area for our internal processes and programs as well as external philanthropic activities.

The company’s focus on developing diverse talent starts before a prospective employee even joins the company. Taking inspiration from best practices and well-known programs, the company’s employment pipeline must provide each hiring manager with a diverse slate of candidates to ensure representative access and opportunity.

Koppers recently introduced its first employee resource group, LINKwomen, which focuses on increasing visibility and development of women within the organization. The group provides programing to create leadership and exposure opportunities for participants, and serves as a model for future employee initiatives.

Our Board of Directors provides oversight of our continued efforts to build strength through diversity of talent and experience. When the opportunity arose to identify candidates for election in 2018, the Board engaged an executive search firm specializing in presenting a diverse slate of individuals. In September, we announced the election of Traci L. Jensen, David L. Motley and Sonja M. Wilkerson to the Board. Each new director brings a unique background and skillset to the organization. In early 2019, Pittsburgh Business Times ranked Koppers No. 1 for women on boards of local publicly traded companies and No. 4 on the publication’s list for racial diversity of boards.

The company’s efforts to invest in its people continues to drive meaningful results. For 2018, Koppers headquarters operations ranked No. 4 for midsize companies on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Top Workplaces list, up from No. 7 in 2017. Additionally, Koppers was recognized as the top company for accepting new ideas from employees.