In 2019, Solvay looked deep into the who and why of our Group. We had transformed our portfolio. Now, it was time to adapt our culture, express who we are – who we have become – and state our Purpose as part of an in-house, bottom-up approach. First, we listened to thousands of Solvay employees. So that we could formulate a Purpose that is understood, owned and lived by each and every one. And build a Purpose-driven company, together.
What’s the story?
Ilham Kadri began her time as Solvay’s CEO by listening to employees, investors and customers. She heard that our Group needed a shared why: an inspiration for our employees, and a clear statement for all about what drives us forward, a galvanizing North Star.
This spurred us on a quest to uncover, articulate, activate and embed our Purpose. The why that we can all share, that will form the foundations of a single culture spanning all our legacy companies, entities and generations. We launched the largest listening effort in our history and found that Solvay already had a Purpose, which our teams were living daily. What they needed, what we all aspire to, were inspiring words to express our why and build bonds around it.
“I am hearing loud and clear that you want Solvay to become more innovative, more agile and bolder – especially in areas like the circular economy. You want us to have a positive impact on mankind and to remain human-centric. I sense your desire to do even more good for society.”Ilham Kadri, Solvay CEO
listening sessions involving more than 3,000 people
survey responses from production sites
Who and how?
To uncover our why we put together an extensive listening tour. Over 13,000 colleagues replied to an in-depth survey; over 12% of our employees – more than 3,000 people – took part in extensive Listening Sessions; and we conducted 25 in-depth dialogues with leaders. We were determined to seek the opinion of our people on the shop floor and, thanks to the mobile-enabled survey format, a full 50% of all responses came from our production plants, and each of those plants organized at least one group Listening Session. We also listened to stakeholders outside the Group. We conducted 22 customer interviews, spoke to each Board member, and ran two focus groups to listen to what the young generation had to say – internally with Millennial employees and externally with our family shareholders.
“It was so interesting to learn what makes my colleagues proud to work for Solvay and see their vision for our future. It was clear that we were all engaged and excited about contributing to defining Solvay’s Purpose.”Raleigh Davis, Research Scientist, Alpharetta, USA
“The picture of shareholders only waiting passively for the payment of their dividend is outdated. Long-term investors, especially from the next generation, also want their investment to carry some sense and be more eco-friendly and socially responsible. In this spirit, some of us along with employees and other stakeholders, were blessed to be invited last year to a meeting in order to help define the purpose of Solvay for the coming years. A thrilling experience and a perfect example of bonding people, ideas and elements to reinvent progress!”Cédric Querton, Family Shareholder
What we achieved
Our listening tour revealed converging ideas that helped us uncover our Purpose. The central themes that echoed time and again were:
Connection and collaboration
We are at our best when we work all together as One Solvay and in partnership with our customers; we have our greatest impact when we partner with other stakeholders.
Breakthroughs that matter
We believe that our scientific and technological capabilities have a positive role to play for the progress of mankind.
Ambitious, caring leadership
To achieve our great ambition, we lead with purpose, heart and mind, reinventing ourselves, constantly learning, unlearning and relearning, supporting others and coaching them to reach their potential.
Unleashing potential and passion
We won’t win only by having the best technologies, but because we have the most inspired people.
One eye on the microscope,
one eye on the telescope
We make our contribution from one generation to another, inspired by long-term opportunities while focusing closely on how we can do our best today.
Our customers are at the heart of everything we do; they express strong expectations and are looking for a more disruptive and proactive partnership with Solvay.
This comprehensive tour helped us discover that Solvay’s Purpose is not new. We simply revealed who we really are. Our Purpose is strong, it is fundamental to our DNA and our legacy and sets us apart from our competitors. Today we express it in a rallying core statement: We bond people, ideas and elements to reinvent progress.