Building on our legacy through leadership and engagement
Koppers significantly advanced the company’s Sustainability strategy in 2019 and 2020 by establishing new governance structures; fostering organizational alignment; assessing and prioritizing initiatives and opportunities, risks and impacts; and working to establish new benchmarks and forward-looking goals.
We are honored to be in service of something bigger than ourselves and our decision-making will be driven by the greater role we can play in impacting our world for the better. That’s why for us, Sustainability is about operating our business in a way that ensures we are taking care of our people and communities, fostering an inclusive and innovative workplace, being a good steward of the environment and contributing beneficial products to society for generations to come. Doing what’s right is the only true way we can earn the opportunity to remain in business, offering value – in all its forms – to our people and our external stakeholders.
Enhancing oversight and focus
Representative of our ongoing work to integrate long-term Sustainability into our business, the Board’s new Sustainability Committee, formed in 2020, recognizes the broader responsibilities of a corporation to not only manage Safety, Health and Environmental concerns, but also address other societal needs relating to People, Planet and Performance.
The Sustainability Committee, chaired by Sharon Feng, Ph.D., is responsible for assessing the company’s safety, health, environmental, security and Sustainability policies, programs and initiatives in accordance with Responsible Care® principles. The Committee is also responsible for reviewing significant legislative, regulatory and social trends around these programs and initiatives. These assessments are carried out through reviews of management practices and results, oversight of matters relating to improving or enhancing the company’s global corporate stewardship, and practices of conscientious corporate social responsibility and product safety.
Fostering participation and progress
In January 2020, the company announced the election of Leslie Hyde as Koppers first Chief Sustainability Officer. As a member of the company’s Leadership Council, she is responsible for driving global Sustainability initiatives while advancing the company’s strategic vision for the future. She also leads mergers and acquisitions, enterprise risk management and product stewardship along with communications, community relations and government affairs functions.
To enhance strategy and goal-setting efforts, a Sustainability Leadership Team was established, with support from a Steering Committee made up of employees from areas that well represent the breadth of our organization. They will work with Functional Area Sustainability Tactical (FAST) Teams and Individual Goal Owners to set new baselines and targets.
Assessing our impacts
As part of the company’s efforts to enhance Sustainability strategy and reporting, Koppers conducted a materiality assessment in line with the Global Reporting Initiative Standards.
Engaging stakeholders, leveraging key frameworks and prioritizing opportunities
The materiality assessment considered a full range of environmental, social and governance topics based on relevant sources and frameworks, including: the American Chemistry Council’s Responsible Care® guidelines, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s Chemical Sector Roadmap for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board’s standards for the Chemical and Building Materials & Construction industries.
The results of this process were shared and validated with senior leaders and used to identify key topics and strategic pillars representing priority areas of focus for the company: People, Planet and Performance.
With an enhanced governance structure for Sustainability, Koppers will further leverage the results of the materiality assessment – along with the company’s overall strategic priorities and opportunities related to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals – to fortify its Sustainability strategy and establish new baselines and forward-looking goals.
Communicating internally and externally
To inform our business strategy we consistently engage our employees, customers, suppliers, investors, regulators and communities. Our commitment to Zero Harm includes working with our stakeholders – both internally and externally – to understand their perspectives about our operations and the issues important to them.
We are proactive in evaluating and addressing community needs in the areas where we operate and we are proud of the strong connections Koppers representatives have made with local stakeholders on a variety of issues. These supportive relationships offer a forum for our people to share facility information and address any questions, observations, concerns and ideas voiced by our community members.
Employees at our facilities regularly coordinate and participate in simulated emergencies, such as hazardous materials spills or fires, with local first responders. These exercises offer practical experience to ensure our facilities remain prepared to respond safely and effectively should a serious event occur.
We work to stay ahead of potential and emerging chemical safety regulations and compliance standards. We strive to understand all potential hazards associated with the chemicals we use, so we may share this information with our employees, customers, suppliers, investors, regulators and communities.
Koppers is active in numerous industry associations, where through our involvement we stay attuned to the perspectives of key audiences such as regulators and product safety groups. We also use these platforms to engage with our industry peers to share and promote best safety and Sustainability practices across our industry.
In 2019, Koppers and the company’s employees played an active role in numerous organizations and trade associations, some of which include:
Koppers clearly articulates policies and expectations regarding stakeholder engagement in our Code of Conduct, available on our website.