You may not have heard of Kuwait Petroleum International (Q8), but this energy giant earns $20 billion in annual revenues, employs 4,500 people and runs operations on five continents. It also sold 11 billion liters (3 billion gallons) of automobile and truck fuel, mostly in Europe the past year at over 4,400 retail stations. Now Q8, a subsidiary of a state-owned Kuwaiti company, has issued its first sustainability report.
The report sends a signal Kuwait is ready to compete on the sustainability front with its neighbors to the southeast, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar. The Gulf region is not necessarily known as a hotbed of sustainability, but both the UAE and Qatar are taking big steps in the research and development of clean energy and green building. Oil is a finite resource in the Gulf and the global natural gas boom will also have an impact on these countries’ imports. Plus concerns ranging from human rights to transparency also behove such firms to disclose details about their operations, which often span the globe.
So what is Q8 doing on the corporate social responsibility front?
Overall, the report is a solid example of a first CSR report. Q8 is still sorting out its materiality assessment: right now the company is taking an “all of the above” approach and is claims it listening to everyone. And those curious about what Q8 will do on the renewables front will be disappointed—this is not a company ready to dump money into solar or wind. Instead, the focus is on making its operations cleaner while grooming its corporate offices to be a more welcoming place to retain talent. Here are a few highlights:
Q8 admits its environmental performance is a mixed bag. Overall, emissions are down. C02, sulphur dioxide and nitrate oxides are down over 10 percent overall. But the amount of paper consumed is up while the volume of recycled water is down from the previous fiscal year. Promises about future renewable energy research and development, such as the president’s mention of biofuels, are vague. Meanwhile Q8 is pioneering CO2-free service stations in Italy, a development that at a minimum will strike some as curious. Also in Italy, 110 retail sites are targeted for a “zero carbon emissions” makeover. All service stations in Belgium will eventually score solar panels, which the company promises will reduce its Belgian chain’s carbon footprint by 115 tons annually.
All companies claim they are keen on motivating their employees, and Q8 is no exception. But evidence suggests the company is serious about retaining talent. Over 450 employees, 10 percent of its workforce, have been with the company for over 25 years, an impressive figure considering the churn-and-burn mentality most companies take towards their employees. The company also offers an internal training program to groom future managers and opportunities to volunteer within local communities. About 37 percent of Q8’s employees are women, hardly a stunning figure, although respectable considering other companies and government agencies in the Middle East. As for encouraging women to advance within the company, however, the company is silent on such efforts—the company only mentions women and men who start with Q8 at the same level are paid the same exact wage.
Details of what goes on within state-owned companies are often murky, but Q8 discloses a relatively robust governance structure. Various boards, including Q8’s overall management, risk disclosure, operating units directors and corporate leadership committees have several meetings throughout the year. Give the company credit for its transparency if not gender diversity—three of the five boards have no women members—the others include 14 percent women.
Overall one must give Q8 credit for issuing a GRI-guided CSR report in the first place. The company certainly scores an “A” for taking that first, nervous step, and disclosures will increase once a more robust materiality assessment is underway. Watch for Q8, and more companies in the Middle East, to become more forthcoming about their environmental and social impacts in the coming years.
Based in Fresno, California, Leon Kaye is the editor of GreenGoPost.com and frequently writes about business sustainability strategy. Leon also contributes to Guardian Sustainable Business; his work has also appeared on Sustainable Brands, Inhabitat and Earth911. You can follow Leon and ask him questions on Twitter or Instagram (greengopost).
[Image credit: Wikipedia]