Not too long ago the fact that a company thought and acted responsibly may have been taken for granted by investors, or even not considered a factor at all. Today the situation is very different, with sustainable, responsible business high on investors’ agendas at every link in the value chain, from raw-material suppliers to consumers.
Companies are increasingly expected to make a positive impact on the environment and society as a whole
“Socially Responsible Investing (SRI), or Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) related matters have always been taken into account by investors, but in the last 12 months or so they have become much more prominent in discussions with investors and analysts,” says Olli. “Interest is being driven by things like the high-profile corporate scandals we have seen in recent years and the critical need to tackle climate change and the plastic waste problem. Far more than just acting ethically and lawfully, companies are increasingly expected to be proactive and make a positive impact on the environment and society as a whole,” Olli explains.
Sustainability is the new normal
“At Kemira ESG matters have been central to our approach for many years and reducing our carbon footprint has been one of the key targets since 2012. Since then, starting from a baseline of 100, we have made significant improvements in our energy efficiency and brought the number down to 83,” Olli highlights. “We are also on track to meet our target that at least 50% of our revenue comes from products that help our customers reduce their use of valuable resources like water, wood fiber, and energy.”
Sustainability is crucial to adding value to your business
Sustainability is no longer seen as an add-on or ‘nice to have’; nowadays it’s crucial to adding value to your business. One of the ways Kemira is demonstrating its commitment to being a responsible, transparent business is through its financing arrangements.
“We have launched a revolving credit facility with a value of €400 million where the cost of money will increase or decrease depending on performance of three sustainability key performance indicators: the share of revenue derived from products that improve use-phase resource efficiency, our carbon efficiency, and our EcoVadis sustainability rating. To use a well-known phrase, you could say we are putting our money where our mouth is,” says Olli.
A differentiating factor in a crowded marketplace
We live in a time of unprecedented choice when it comes to the opportunities open to investors, with 47,000 companies listed on stock exchanges globally and around 14,000 in Europe alone. As such, standing out from the crowd is more important than ever, and thinking and acting responsibly and sustainably is a powerful way to achieve this.
“In today’s fast-paced and complex world, investors’ time is a scarce resource. More and more investment decisions are based on algorithms and passive investing, where only a company’s financial performance is taken into account. To get investors’ personal attention, being financially attractive is no longer enough, we have to create a compelling story that clearly demonstrates the value we bring,” Olli explains. “Circular-economy thinking is a part of this story, and you can find it practically everywhere you look in Kemira. For example, around 20% of our raw materials are by-products of our partners’ processes – indeed our coagulants, used to purify water, are manufactured from 80% recycled sources.”
Promoting understanding through transparent, proactive communication
Olli’s approach to his work is based on a philosophy with three key elements: transparency, proactivity, and attitude. “A lack of clarity causes investors to see companies in a negative light, while a willingness to be transparent and communicative increases their understanding of the business and therefore their willingness to invest,” says Olli. “Being proactive and sharing your story with investors and analysts is also really important because it helps them see beyond the figures to the real value. And when it comes to attitude, you need to be ready and willing to serve the needs of anyone who is interested in the business as an investment opportunity.”