NOTE S11 Societal actions
7.2. Societal actions
Societal actions are how we create shared social value. Today, value creation is a collaborative effort both within the company and between the company and its stakeholders. The Group aims to strengthen its commitment by facilitating employee involvement in projects that serve society and by offering Solvay’s expertise to regions where the Group operates. Disclosure of Solvay’s indirect economic impact is provided in this section.
Solvay Group donations, sponsorships and own projects
of employees involved in local societal actions
70% of the industrial sites have a working group, composed of the site manager, Human Resource manager, and employee representatives, that defines the major issues facing the region and which relevant societal actions the site will take.
Local societal actions
A local societal action is a volunteer activity developed by a site in collaboration with associations, governmental initiatives, or NGOs, with the aim of improving the human condition and contributing to local communities. It should address one of the four issues identified by the Group:
- scientific solutions;
- education and youth employment;
- environmental actions;
- solidarity at the local level.
Responsibilities and resources
Each site is invited to design its own societal actions plan in accordance with the principles of the Solvay Way framework. Guidelines have been provided to the sites, inviting them to start by designating a working group composed of the site manager, Human Resource manager, communication manager, Solvay Way correspondent, and employee representatives, with the support of the industrial relations network. The site manager is accountable for developing and implementing the societal actions plan. The working groups must update the site plans annually in pursuit of continuous improvement.
Solvay sites manage their societal approach locally, independently choosing and funding initiatives that meet the needs of their surrounding communities.
Indicators and objectives
Societal Actions is not subject to assurance procedures as the reporting process is undergoing recalibration to strengthen data quality.
Solvay’s priority objective:
of employees involved in societal actions
In % of headcount
Employees involved in local societal actions
Example of local initiatives
- 20 volunteers from Solvay’s Italian sites joined together to build a country-specific network: Solvay Way Italia. Each year, they act as facilitators to engage with local communities. They share and promote good practices, help engagement for safety, and collaborate in societal actions;
- The “All Star Game” at the Santo André Site (Brazil). This action, linked to the Solidarity focus, raised funds to help pay for infrastructure improvements at the Casa da Acolhida Santa Gema in Santo André and Lar Sol da Esperança in Mauá. The volunteers organized a volleyball match and barbecue involving employees from the Santo André plant. All profits from the ticket sales went towards the infrastructure improvements of the two charitable institutions;
- "The planting of young trees to improve local ecology” at Changshu in China. Managers, union representatives, and other employees joined local authorities and other companies in a tree-planting activity at the local park. Participants planted many loquat trees with the help of representatives from the local school, and will continue to do regular maintenance at Fushan Village in order to show Solvay’s strong commitment to the environment. This kind of initiative has been repeated at other Solvay sites across the world;
- “Creative heads” at the Wimpfen Site in Germany. The "creative heads" project is a joint initiative of cities, schools, and companies in the region to promote and support the creative ideas of students. This action is linked to both educational efforts and science efforts, as another activity at the same site consists in teaching and managing the "natural sciences lessons" at Ludwig-Fronhäuser Schule (a school partnership in the town).
Corporate citizenship and philanthropy
Requests for financial support
The Group aims to connect its philanthropic efforts with the Group’s areas of expertise and support causes where its products or activities can deliver added value.
In 1923, Solvay created the Ernest Solvay Fund to honor the founder of the Company, who died the year before. Today, the majority of Solvay’s corporate philanthropy goes through the Ernest Solvay Fund. This Fund is managed by the independent King Baudouin Foundation.
Solvay concentrates its philanthropic and funding efforts at the corporate level on science promotion, education, and youth employment, and in some circumstances it supports humanitarian initiatives in response to certain disasters and/or where our products or services are of particular value.
Chemistry for the Future Solvay Prize
The Chemistry for the Future Solvay Prize rewards a major scientific discovery that could shape tomorrow’s chemistry and aid human progress. The prize perpetuates the strong support Ernest Solvay lent to scientific research. It is intended to endorse basic research and underline the essential role of chemistry, both as a science and an industry, in helping to solve some of the world’s most pressing issues. The € 300,000 prize is awarded every two years.
The 2017 Chemistry for the Future Solvay Prize was awarded to Professor Susumu Kitagawa for his work in developing metal organic frameworks, a new class of materials with a range of potential future applications, including the capturing of polluting gases.
The International Solvay Institutes for Physics and Chemistry
The Solvay Institutes were founded by Ernest Solvay in 1912 to support and develop curiosity-driven research in physics, chemistry, and associated fields with the purpose of “enlarging and deepening the understanding of natural phenomena”.
The central activity of the Institutes is the periodic organization of the celebrated Solvay Conferences on Physics and Chemistry (“Conseils de Physique Solvay” and “Conseils de Chimie Solvay”). This support for fundamental science is complemented by the organization of open workshops on specific selected topics, international chairs, colloquia, and an international doctoral school.
In addition to these activities, the Solvay Institutes promote the popularization of science through the organization of the annual Solvay public lectures devoted to today’s big scientific challenges.
Examples of Group science educational and social projects
- In 2017, we supported the University for Children initiative at the University of Brussels, in particular the science program. The project aims to attract children from underprivileged communities whose parents may never have had the chance to study;
- “A Bridge between two worlds” is a project developed together with the La Monnaie Opera House in Brussels to bring art and music to underprivileged communities and schools;
- The creation at the University of Strasbourg of “bourses de doctorat d’excellence en chimie”, which support candidates from the Imperial College of London, University of Cambridge, and Saint Andrews University;
- The annual grant to the Queen Elisabeth Medical Foundation (QEMF), which encourages laboratory research and contact between researchers and clinical practitioners, with a particular focus on neurosciences. The QEMF supports 17 university teams throughout Belgium;
- The International IUPAC/Solvay Award for Young Chemists, which will reward five young chemists and researchers from top universities all around the world;
- The “Solvay Awards”, which have been recognizing excellent master’s and doctoral students from two major universities in Belgium for more than 20 years;
- Since 2014, Solvay has supported VOCATIO scholarships, which allow talented young people to achieve their dream or to start pursuing it;
- The creation of the research chair "Chimie et Auto assemblage" at the University of Bordeaux.
Group Strategic Partnerships
Ellen MacArthur Foundation
In January 2018, Solvay and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation signed a three-year Global Partner agreement, giving the Group an opportunity to make a difference in accelerating the transition towards a circular economy in the chemicals sector.
Known for its expertise and work with businesses, governments, and academia, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation helps foster the economy’s transition from a take-make-dispose model to a more sustainable and economic one.
World Alliance for efficient technologies
Solvay joined the World Alliance for Efficient Solutions, created by Solar Impulse founder Bertrand Piccard, to promote efficient technologies, processes, and systems that help improve the quality of life on earth. The Alliance members consist of start-ups, companies, institutions, and organizations.
By combining the forces of governments, corporations, and international institutions, the Alliance will facilitate their ability to share experiences and create synergies in order to develop and implement concrete solutions to reach environmental and health targets.
Business programs for social needs
Sustainable Guar Initiative, or how we do inclusive business
farmers registered in the program
women impacted by the program
kitchen gardens planted
Solvay is the world’s leading producer of guar derivatives. Since 2015, Solvay has been spearheading a large-scale development initiative to improve the sustainability of guar cultivation and to make a positive contribution to the livelihood of the farmers who produce it. Guar is a drought-resistant legume grown in semi-arid areas, predominantly in India. Rajasthan accounts for approximtely 70% of the country’s production.
In collaboration with L’Oreal and Henkel, two strategic customers active in Personal Care, and with the support of the nonprofit organization TechnoServe, more than 4,000 farmers in Bikaner were trained over two and a half years, and more than 330 kitchen gardens were developed in 20 villages.
The initiative’s primary objective is to encourage sustainable agriculture, thereby increasing farmers’ revenues through guar cultivation good practices for seed selection, seed treatment, sowing, and pest management.
The initiative also empowers women through specific training on hygiene, health, and nutrition:
- fostering better nutritional practices by growing vegetables in kitchen gardens in a region where the traditional diet is very limited;
- improving health and hygiene practices for themselves and their children.
Lastly, the initiative focuses on agroforestry with more than 42,000 trees planted to fight sand movement and soil erosion in the fields. The outcome means guar farmers can earn a better living, global buyers can obtain higher quality guar, and the market can benefit from improved supply security.