With 67 manufacturing plants in 16 countries, INEOS must be doing something right. But that doesn’t mean, it takes its success for granted. Far from it, as INCH discovered
AS INEOS has grown, so too has its responsibility towards those who live and work close to its manufacturing sites.
It believes its licence to operate complex, potentially hazardous petrochemical plants hinges on how it is perceived in the community.
“We do not operate in a vacuum,” said Kevin McQuade, CEO of INEOS Styrolution. “Our responsibility does not end at the company gates. We want to be a good and valued neighbour and maintain people’s trust.”
Each of INEOS’ sites has a co-ordinated approach to building and strengthening relationships with those who live, work and play nearby.
Regular community forums at some of its sites, including Köln in Germany and at Grangemouth in the UK, give the public the opportunity to listen to INEOS’ plans for the future, ask questions and air any concerns.
“We try to explain ourselves using clear and non-technical language. Because we have built up a good long-term relationship over the years, people are reassured. They may sometimes not like to hear what we have to tell them, but it is important we explain the context” said David East, Communications Manager at INEOS’ site in Grangemouth.
Dr Anne-Gret Iturriaga Abarzua, Head of Communications at INEOS Köln, said the regular meetings at the Köln plant with representatives of the Köln-Worringen Community Forum were always constructive, open and honest.
“They enable us to provide updates on our business and introduce plans for the future,” she said. “But more importantly they provide a platform for local people to ask questions.”
In addition to the regular forums, both Grangemouth and Köln host ad-hoc meetings if specific issues need to be discussed, and Köln invites local people to tour the site by bus every month to see for themselves exactly how INEOS operates.
Talking to local communities about what INEOS is doing and planning matters to both sides.
“We take our role in society very seriously,” said Christine Schönfelder, Vice President Corporate Communications, Investor Relations, Advocacy and Change Management at INEOS Styrolution. “We want to be a trusted part of the community where we operate.”
INEOS Upstream – INEOS’ newest business – is currently talking to communities in England about its plans to explore parts of the UK for shale gas.
“It is a very controversial and contentious issue,” said Tom Pickering, INEOS Shale, “But we want to show the community that we do understand they might be worried, we do care and we will listen.”
Being a trusted part of the community does matter a great deal to INEOS – and that’s why you will often find INEOS employees helping charities, competing in sporting events or helping to develop and educate young people.
Many of INEOS’ sites also work alongside schools and colleges to promote a healthy interest in science, technology and engineering – and, in doing so, hopefully inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.
“As a successful company, we want to give something back to society,” said Christine. “The way we do our business is as important as the business we do. Operating with integrity and with ethical standards is our way of doing business.”
INEOS businesses and sites have embraced social media which has opened up new channels of communication with the wider community. They are using the Internet, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as a way to inform local communities and, just as importantly, receive feedback.
“Because of its immediacy, social media is a great way to respond to events where speed is of the essence,” said Anne-Gret. “In these circumstances it enables us to gain trust and establish ourselves as the single point of authoritative information.”
Grangemouth’s Community Liaison Group, which includes local councillors, police officers and the local head teacher, used to meet four times a year but decided, amongst themselves, to cut it down to two.
“For us, it will always be a wonderful opportunity to speak face-to-face with representatives from the local community, share our plans, be open and honest about our performance and to hear their views and thoughts,” said David. “It helps that we have members who have been members of the group for a long time, and many who are ex-employees. It’s all about building and maintaining relationships.”
But it’s not just about communication.
INEOS’ successful, worldwide GO Run For Fun campaign aimed at inspiring tomorrow’s generation to be active and its work in German primary and secondary schools through TuWas! are equally as important.
“All these things will certainly shape our profile as a trustworthy, sustainable and honest company for many years to come,” said Anne-Gret.