Solvay is proud of the legacy of its founder Ernest Solvay who was one of the first corporate leaders to implement what we call today Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), placing a strong emphasis on responsible capitalism and the well-being of employees. In 2020, our commitment to providing a better life and managing our people with purpose, heart and mind was in the spotlight through our Solvay Solidarity Fund, our Citizen Day initiative, and actions to care for employees and communities during the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond.
Helping employees through hardship with the Solvay Solidarity Fund
The Solvay Solidarity Fund was launched on April 9, 2020 to provide additional support, both financial and non-financial (i.e. days off) to any Solvay employee and dependents who experience adversity due to the coronavirus pandemic. It also supports Solvay communities that are severely impacted by the crisis. By the end of 2020, the fund had raised €15 million thanks to voluntary contributions by shareholders, the Group’s directors, CEO and Executive Committee members, management members and employees. The Chairman of the Board decided to give his entire compensation for six months while Senior management committed to contribute 15% of their compensation for the rest of the year.
Former Solvay CEO Christian Jourquin chairs the Fund Management Committee, which manages the distribution resources. As CEO Ilham Kadri said, “I am proud of all the shareholders and senior leaders in Solvay for readily volunteering to contribute towards the welfare of those employees in need. These steps translate Solvay’s Purpose into concrete examples and meaningful action.”
“Thank you SO much for the gift. Honestly, I can’t tell you how much this is appreciated and will help our family during this time. It feels like a big weight was lifted off our shoulders.”Solvay employee, Houston, Texas
Belgian microbiologist Dr. Peter Piot, the special advisor to the EU President Ursula Von der Leyen on Covid-19 and the director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Professor of Global Health, was appointed as Honorary Chairman of the Solvay Solidarity Fund to advise the fund throughout the pandemic. As he explained, “I was inspired by the quick action taken by Solvay to build this infrastructure to support its own employees and organizations in need.”
days off donated by employees
Support given to over
families (6,500 people)
“Solvay is not only a company with plants ; it is a human community to which we belong as shareholders. Solidarity is an unconditional part of Solvay values: we pioneered social welfare, caring for our employees’ wellbeing since the creation of the company. Today, I am proud to be a shareholder of this company that acts consistently with its values, and is modern in its commitments.”Xavier Desclée Solvay family shareholder
As part of its charitable giving, the Solvay Solidarity fund dedicated €100,000 to guar farmers in Bikaner, India – who play a key role in Solvay’s value chain – to help them cope with the impacts of the Covid-19 crisis. The funding will provide agricultural supplies, additional sanitary equipment, water reservoirs, and menstrual hygiene resources.
The Solvay Solidarity Fund also made another €100,000 contribution to Devnya Hospital, Bulgaria, where Solvay has a strong presence with its soda ash plant. The donation paid for the fast renovation of a dedicated medical antenna to meet the community’s urgent needs, as the region was hit hard by the second wave of the pandemic. Sixty people have been admitted in this antenna and 50 have recovered and been discharged.
donation to Indian guar farmers, part of Solvay’s extended workforce
donation to renovate a hospital satellite in Solvay community in Devnya, Bulgaria
“I have seen first hand how the Fund provides much needed financial support to employees and their families. The donations help bridge the gap for employees whose household income was heavily impacted because of job losses or furlough. It also provides additional time off to employees to take care of their loved ones who are ill or their children who are not able to go to school at this time.”Alexandra Casler Site Human Resources Manager, Princeton, New Jersey
Educating students virtually on STEM and skill building for Citizen Day
Through our annual Solvay's Citizen Day, we live our Purpose by volunteering our time and bonding with our communities. Since physical meetings were not possible in 2020, we transformed Citizen Day into a virtual effort to educate students in our communities about STEM topics, the work we do at Solvay, and how chemistry is the key to reinventing progress. Employees created over 250 educational videos, several of which are now stored in our Future Innovators' Library.
Extended maternity, paternity and co-parent leave
To promote diversity and gender equality, in 2020 we increased our global maternity leave policy to 16 weeks and extended it to all co-parents employed by the company regardless of gender or sexual orientation. The policy also now includes parents who adopt. As Solvay CEO Ilham Kadri explained, “To help women to get to the top, let’s give their spouses the opportunity to help them during one of the key steps in a family life.”
The extended Solvay Cares benefit program was signed by the Solvay Global Forum of union representatives. Solvay Cares provides a minimum level of company social benefits that cover major healthcare costs, disability leave, maternity leave, paternal leave, adoption leave and life insurance. The Solvay Cares benefits in many cases surpass the level of benefits already in place in several countries.
“Our founder would be proud of us, of you, of what we do in such difficult times. It’s not common that we increase paternity/maternity leave in a Covid-19 crisis, where a lot of companies, including Solvay, are suffering and yet we do it. This is a real signal that you take care of the employees – you are not only customer-obsessed, you are also human-obsessed.”Albert Kruft Solvay Global Forum Coordinator
Safety net and special bonus during the Covid crisis
In addition to the Solvay Solidarity Fund, in 2020 Solvay was one of the first companies to announce an umbrella scheme that ensures employees are protected by providing up to one month of salary to any employee who is on medical leave due to Covid-19, maintaining full employee health benefits and guaranteeing 70% of gross monthly base pay for up to 3 months in case of furlough.
We also dedicated a portion of the cash generated this year – €14,5 million – to award a special bonus to all non-executive employees in appreciation for their hard work during the crisis.
Pulse surveys to better manage employee well-being
When the Covid crisis hit and employees were suddenly faced with numerous challenges, we quickly initiated One Pulse surveys every six weeks to find out how our 23,000 employees were doing. The primary objective is to look after their well being throughout a difficult time of confinement, furlough and health concerns. We also want to help them adapt to the rapidly changing culture of the company.
Surveys in 2020
* survey in November, 2020