Dow Chemical : Performing to target
A rare instance of using a website to publish not only deep historical data but also corresponding performance against target.
Dow Chemical sells its products across a range of markets and in more than 180 countries. The Our Commitments section of its website includes an Environmental Stewardship area where Dow sets out its progress in preventing environment and health & safety “incidents”. Performance charts for eight key measures – such as Leaks, Breaks, & Spills and Process Safety Incidents – show precise yearly performance data from 1994 to 2003 together with the performance goal, which is projected through to 2005. Each chart is accompanied by explanatory text, which addresses under- as well as over-par performance.
A similar approach is taken to reporting in the adjacent Resource Productivity page where there are seven charts covering emissions, waste and energy goals.
Over the past couple of years the corporate responsibility content of company websites has moved on from ‘feelgood’ reporting of community involvement schemes and charitable donations. No one would now expect to get away without covering environmental and health & safety issues. Many, particularly in manufacturing and heavy industries, do this online alongside the production of annual ‘corporate social responsibility’ or ‘sustainability’ reports.
Dow is, however, rare even in the chemicals industry, which has been a leader in this area, in using its website to publish not only deep historical data (going back to 1994) but also its performance against target across that ten year span. In doing so, it provides a meaningful context in which to judge the information. And by acknowledging as well as demonstrating when it misses targets Dow adds credibility to what for many remains a traditional public relations exercise. Perhaps Dow has learned from its history that honesty is the best policy in this area.http://www.dow.com
First published on 09 December, 2004