3.3. Stakeholder engagement
In 2016, particular attention was paid to the work of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). Group representatives from the Corporate Finance function and the Sustainable Development function participated in consultations and various working groups. The TCFD published its recommendations on December 14, 2016, too late to be included in this report.
The 2015 Annual Report and the 2015 Complementary Annual Report on Sustainable Development Information have been submitted to the GRI Review Service. The feedback was used to improve the content and presentation of this report.
In 2015 Solvay won the “Best Belgian Sustainability Report” award from the Belgian Institute of Registered Auditors; following this, a representative from Solvay joined the jury for the 2016 award. This participation made it possible to interact with the other members of the jury and learn more about their expectations for sustainability reporting.
The Group received questionnaires from investment funds in 2016 relating to its position on substances of very high concern (SVHC), animal testing, and carbon pricing – issues already covered in our reports.
The materiality analysis was presented in 2015 to a particular group of investors: descendants of the founding families of the Solvay group, who currently represent the largest group of investors. Solvay used a dedicated social media platform to present the analysis, submitting a questionnaire that asked them to rank material issues (high-moderate-low priority) as listed by the SASB in their materiality approach. Their feedback is presented in the 2015 Annual Report.
Engagement is fostered by regular dialog between the managers of the Group and the employees. More specifically, social dialog covers dialog with employees’ representatives at four levels: sites, countries, Europe, and Group.
For more details about the main topics discussed in 2016, please see the “Social dialog” section of this report.
The materiality analysis of the Group has been presented to the Sustainable Development Commission for the Group’s European Works Council. No particular comments have been made by employee representatives on the materiality analysis.
Since 2013, Solvay is committed, through a Global Framework Agreement signed with IndustriALL Global Union, to respecting fundamental human rights resulting from ILO conventions and UN Global compact initiatives. Beyond the scope of its employees, Solvay expects that this agreement will ensure that its suppliers and subcontractors respect the same rules. Of special mention are the visits, organized twice a year in the Solvay sites with the participation of IndustriALL officers, to assess the compliance of Solvay with these principles.
Solvay engages in a constructive dialog with public authorities on issues of legitimate interest to Solvay. This includes participation in many trade associations at global and regional level, such as the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the International Council of Chemistry Associations (ICCA), BusinessEurope, and European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic). Examples:
- COP22: Solvay confirmed its commitment to fighting climate change at COP22 in Marrakesh. Participating in several high-level meetings with business leaders and ministers from across the globe, Jean-Pierre Clamadieu highlighted the important role that innovation from the chemical industry and collaboration between industry sectors can play in implementing the Paris agreement.
- United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: at its headquarters in Brussels, Solvay organized an internal workshop on the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs). The objective of the half-day event was to raise awareness around the UN 2030 Agenda and see how the five Solvay Sustainable Development targets (as well as the whole list of the 13 materiality issues) fit in this global framework. The workshop generated a helpful exchange with some of the Group’s external stakeholders (United Nations, European Commission, European Parliament, Carbon Disclosure Project, Belgian Federal Institute for Sustainable Development, Corporate Social Responsibility Europe).
The “Community Development” chapter of this report includes examples of actions initiated locally, in the areas around our sites, within the framework of local community engagement.
Solvay CEO Jean-Pierre Clamadieu signed the “Alliance for YOUth” pledge in the presence of the European Commissioner Marianne Thyssen. Solvay’s participation is one part of several commitments the Group has made, including the European Pact 4 Youth, to stimulate policies on youth employability to enhance business competitiveness.
Solvay puts its customers at the heart of its strategy and is continuing its shift towards greater customer centricity. To pursue this aim, Solvay organizes regular Group Tech Days with key customers, who are best positioned to understand the needs of the end consumers, and who are driving the market trends.
These Tech Days aim to raise Solvay’s visibility as a solution provider and enhance its recognition as a strategic partner, both for its current product offering and for future customer-focused co-innovations. During these events, Solvay focuses on our customers’ challenges, which later enables us to match their needs.
In the last five years, Solvay has held about 20 Group Tech Days with leading players in such industries as automotive, aeronautics, oil & gas, agro, and coatings in Europe, Asia and the Americas. These events have had a significant impact for the group, with more than 2,500 representatives of customers giving rise to tangible business opportunities for the group (e.g. through joint-development agreements).
Below are some examples of engagement with suppliers:
- A suppliers’ online satisfaction survey was conducted at the end of 2015. The survey sought to promote Solvay Way practices and ensure balanced relationships with suppliers. Of the 790 suppliers invited to participate, 484 responded. Suppliers truly appreciate the strong relationship they have with Solvay. Suppliers also took the opportunity to raise some areas for improvement, such as communication concerning general news, business, forecasts, and new products.
- On September 20, 2016, the Together for Sustainability (TfS) summit took place in Mumbai, India, to build awareness of the importance of creating a sustainable supply chain in the chemical industry. Over 500 participants attended the conference, including representatives from suppliers and members of the TfS organization, as well as local and international associations. For more information about the TfS initiative, please see http://www.tfs-initiative.com.
- Solvay organized an Excellence Award in Latin America event to recognize suppliers that provided exemplary logistics services in 2015. The awards were very well received, and generated positive feedback both internally and externally. This recognition is put to good use by suppliers with respect to their teams and customers.