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.

33%

of employees involved in local societal actions

€ 3,919 million

Solvay Group donations, sponsorships and own projects

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 what relevant societal actions the site will take.

Local societal actions

Definition

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 domains identified by Solvay:

  1. Science;
  2. Education and youth employability;
  3. Environment;
  4. Solidarity and philanthropy.

Responsibilities and resources

Each site is invited to design its own local societal action plan in accordance with the principles of the Solvay Way framework and the needs of surrounding communities. Guidelines are provided to the sites, inviting them to start by designating a working group to update the site’s plans annually in pursuit of continuous improvement.

  • The site manager is accountable for implementation, developing the societal action plan, and securing funding;
  • The site Human Resources manager offers support, by proposing actions with stakeholders, and documentation, by counting the employees involved;
  • The industrial relations officer is a promoter who provides advice on aligning societal actions with stakeholder needs and Group guidelines, coordinates national initiatives, and communicates information among sites;
  • The Solvay Way Correspondent acts as a reporter, ensuring compliance with Group rules, proposing actions, making site-level assessments, and recording and relaying information;
  • Employee representatives are volunteer ambassadors They actively contribute to and participate in the working groups and propose actions.

Indicators and objectives

Societal Actions are not subject to assurance procedures, as the reporting process is being recalibrated to strengthen data quality.

Solvay’s priority objective:

2025

40%

of employees involved in societal actions

In % of headcount

 

2018

 

2017

 

2016

Number of employees that participated at least in one societal action in 2018 (even if they are no long present at the company on December 31, 2018) divided by the headcount on December 31, 2018.

Employees involved in local societal actions

 

33

 

33

 

23

Examples of local initiatives

  • For the last two years, the Brussels Solvay Campus has been building a partnership with the Solidarité Grands Froids Association, which helps poor people survive in the streets and emergency centers of Belgium. Several departments organized specific actions benefiting the association: fundraising and collecting clothes, medicines, bandages, and toys. Motivated teams of Solvay volunteers went on site to sort the donations;
  • Sao Paulo Campus Site: Fourteen Brazil-based colleagues, members of the Specialty Polymers Global Business Unit and representatives from human resources, Solvay business services, marketing, and communications, took twenty children from the Reviver Recica NGO out for a day of learning and fun at the Catavento Science Museum in Sao Paulo. The NGO is a center that helps socially integrate children and teenagers, voluntarily assisting juveniles in vulnerable situations by promoting prevention, rehabilitation, and integration into community life;
  • In 2019, Solvay will launch the Solvay Award for outstanding local societal actions to recognize, share, and promote best practices. Interested sites will present their best practices with respect to societal actions. A jury will bring together representatives from diverse Global Business Units and regions: site managers, Human Resources managers, industrial relations officers, the Solvay Way Champions, employee representatives, and NGO representatives.

Corporate citizenship and philanthropy

Management approach

250

Requests for financial support

80

Funded projects

Solvay aims to connect its philanthropic effort 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, managed by the independent King Baudouin Foundation.

Solvay concentrates its philanthropic and funding efforts at corporate level on science promotion, education, and youth employability, and in some circumstances it supports humanitarian initiatives in response to certain disasters and/or situations where the products or services are of particular value.

Major projects

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”). To complement this support for fundamental science, the Group organizes 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 by organizing the annual Solvay public lectures devoted to today’s biggest scientific challenges.

In 2018, Solvay supported a new initiative from the Institutes: “The New Horizons Solvay Lectures”, given by young scientists who have already made a name for themselves and attained some stature in their field. They deliver one general interest lecture at the Solvay Institutes on their current research and the challenges they see for their discipline, and then a second complementary lecture at another Belgian university. Lectures are encouraged whenever possible, as are scientific discussions with a range of Belgian research groups working in similar fields.

Examples of Group science educational and social projects

  • CERN (CH): Solvay supports the Non-Member State Summer Student Program, giving hundreds of students the chance to get hands-on experience in the sciences each year. The eight-week Summer Student Program gives undergraduate students in physics, computing and engineering a unique opportunity to join in the day-to-day work of research teams and become familiar with the processes and technologies used on site;
  • Learn Education is Thailand’s leading educational technology social enterprise. It provides an innovative, online blended learning approach to engage students through culturally relevant material and lessens overworked teachers’ workloads. Since 2011, it has helped more than 25,000 students and 200 teachers.

Group Strategic Partnerships

Ellen MacArthur Foundation

In January 2018, Solvay and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation signed a three-year Global Partner agreement that gives the Group an opportunity to make a difference in accelerating the transition to a circular economy in the chemicals sector.

More details on this partnership

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. Alliance members include start-ups, companies, institutions, and organizations.

By combining the forces of governments, corporations, and international institutions, the Alliance will amplify their ability to share experiences and create synergies in order to develop and implement concrete solutions to reach environmental and health targets.

Alliance for Efficient Solutions

Business programs for social needs

Sustainable Guar Initiative, or how we do inclusive business

7,340

farmers registered in the program

1,529

women impacted by the program

864

kitchen gardens planted

59,000+

trees planted

Solvay is the world’s leading producer of guar derivatives. Since 2015, Solvay has been spearheading a large-scale development initiative to make guar cultivation more sustainable while boosting the incomes of the farmers who produce it. Guar is a drought-resistant legume grown in semi-arid areas, predominantly in India. Rajasthan accounts for approximately 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 NGO TechnoServe, more than 7,000 farmers in Bikaner were trained over four years, and more than 860 kitchen gardens were developed in 36 villages.

The initiative’s primary objective is to encourage sustainable and climate-smart agriculture, thereby increasing farmers’ revenues through good guar cultivation 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 59,000 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.