BASF has earned a place on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for an impressive 14th consecutive year. Ethical Corporation talks to the chemical giant’s head of sustainability and finds a company far from complacent

Chemical balance

“Erst denken, dann handeln”. First think, then act. Few companies live out this old German proverb better than BASF. Assiduous, ordered and archetypically scientific, the Rhineland-based chemical giant is a paradigm of careful corporate strategizing followed by no-nonsense execution.

As corporate investments go, BASF is a safe bet. Few of Germany’s largest corporations can date their history back to the pre-Bismarck period (BASF celebrates its 150th anniversary next year). An early pioneer in catalytic processing, synthetic dyeing and chlorine liquefaction, the company also lays claim to the introduction of ammonia synthesis (the crucial step in the manufacture of modern mineral fertilizers).

Today, it continues that innovation, with a portfolio stretching over thousands of products. The firm’s sectoral reach is expansive too, ranging from aerospace, agriculture and construction through to packaging, mass transit, pharmaceuticals and more.

BASF’s corporate culture has seen it emerge as a leader in sustainability. For the past 14 consecutive years, the firm has earned itself a place in the benchmark Dow Jones Sustainability Index. Its inclusion is testimony to a comprehensive, consistent and integrated approach to the issue, says Dirk Voeste, vice-president for sustainable strategy at the firm.

“Being in the DJSI is not a case of being particularly...

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BASF  business strategy  Chemicals  Management spotlight  management strategy 

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