2020 Integrated Report

Accelerating our transformation

AgRHO® S Boost (pictured)

AgRHO® S Boost is a macromolecule extracted from guar, a legume, which improves the plant's absorption of water and nutrients, boosts germination and ultimately increases yield.

As we implemented our G.R.O.W. strategy in 2020, one of the main focuses was transforming the Group into ONE more united Solvay team (W of G.R.O.W. stands for Winning as ONE team). The crisis acted as a catalyst to enable us to break down silos more quickly, increase agility and efficiency, simplify support functions and improve how we engage with customers to better serve them, spreading a performance-driven culture throughout the company.

Reinventing the way we engage with customers

We are putting our “customer-obsession” at the heart of everything we do. We began implementing the transversal programs announced last year, as part of our new Solvay One operating model.

New Customer Engagement model

In 2020, we accelerated our new Customer Engagement model with the ambition to become best-in-class in how we serve our clients. We will achieve this by having ONE Solvay approach that is differentiated by customer segments and leverages our full portfolio of products and technologies.

“We want to be our customers’ prefered partner – the one they call first because we understand their unmet needs and bring them a unique solution, while sharing the value created with them. We want to serve them at our best. That’s the change in mindset we are driving throughout the company.”

Augusto Didonfrancesco, Member of the Executive Committee

Developing closer relationships with key strategic customers

Executive Key Account Managers have been designated to deepen our relationships with strategic key customers. For example, our CEO met virtually with the CEO of Bosch, which accelerated our collaboration leading to new growth opportunities. Solvay has a historical connection with Bosch to develop applications using high performance plastic materials, for instance in Bosch’s new smart food processor. The exchange demonstrates how Solvay is creating opportunities to collaborate on topics of common interest such as sustainability, fuel cells and circular economy initiatives.

We made significant strides with our new Customer Engagement model by:

  • Creating a Group Strategic Key Account Program to form strong relationships with the clients who will drive our growth and enable us to provide solutions from across our portfolio of technologies and products.
  • Developing a new Group-wide approach to managing smaller customers and distribution;
  • Designing a new Sales Academy to boost our teams’ skills and share best-practices;
  • Launching CEO Sales Awards and creating a Sales Incentive Plan for 2021 that is designed to motivate, recognize and incentivize our frontline sales people.

Recognizing our commercial professionals who go beyond

Our CEO Awards this year celebrated our best commercial professionals who bonded with customers and exceeded budgeted targets, in spite of unprecedented headwinds.

“It’s about having a deep understanding of our customers’ needs, cultivating trust, and working together as one team to create win-win solutions. 2020 was an extraordinary year of reinforcing partnerships with our key customers.”

Soline de Cayeux (picture)Soline de Cayeux Executive & Global Key Account Manager, GBU Silica, CEO Awards winner

Taking new steps in portfolio simplification

Soda Ash & Derivatives

As part of the G.R.O.W. strategy, the Materials, Chemicals and Solutions segments were given distinct mandates reflecting different paths to value creation. Building upon this strategy, Solvay is taking steps to organize its Soda Ash & Derivatives business into a separate and fully controlled legal structure. These steps will reinforce internal financial and operational transparency and accountability, in line with its mandate of optimizing cash flow generation and returns, while increasing strategic flexibility.

Divesting commodity business lines

Following the optimization of several businesses, Solvay has reached agreements to sell its interests in six commodity business lines, mainly in the Chemicals and Solutions segments. We expect completion of these transactions, which collectively represent annual sales of around €300 million, in the first half of 2021. We will continue to explore other opportunities to further simplify our portfolio.

Accelerating the transformation of our organization and spreading a new performance-driven culture

Through the W in our G.R.O.W. strategy, which stands for Winning together as One Group, we had foreseen a need for a simplified governance for business support activities, the redesign or elimination of certain activities and enhanced digitization. The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the transformation.

“In just one year, we have done so much in our journey to change the company.”

Hervé Tiberghien (picture)Hervé Tiberghien, Chief People Officer, Member of the Executive Committee

New ways of bonding

Due to the pandemic, approximately 40% of our employees have been teleworking since mid-March. Therefore, we had to invent new ways of bonding, managing and communicating. We did this by:

  • listening to employees through recurring Pulse surveys and adapting accordingly;
  • helping leaders change the way they manage and become more agile;
  • launching a “connected coffees” initiative to help colleagues throughout entities and countries meet each other and exchange ideas and experiences;
  • organizing CEO virtual visits to plants and digital Q&A sessions with employees.

A virtual visit to our Linne-Herten site

Our CEO began her virtual visits at our Linne Herten site (Netherlands) where she heard more about how the team transformed their plant to manufacture ingredients for pharma, cleaning, and hygiene to help meet urgent needs during the pandemic.

“I was beamed across the continent to meet hundreds of Solvay colleagues. I was energized by the passion of our teams, celebrating their victories and listening to their concerns and dreams.”

Ilham Kadri Solvay CEO

Focusing on Better life through our new People Engagement Journey

We are implementing our new set of behaviors to help everyone at Solvay be “at their best”. We want to provide the right conditions for people to feel that they can bring their whole selves to work.

Empowering leaders

The leaders at Solvay will focus not only on technical competencies but also on leading and coaching their teams “at their best” as a true mission.

Reinventing work-in-life balance

We are finding the right integration between work and personal lives by empowering our employees rather than having them work in a top down environment. To help them with this during the crisis, we quickly set up coaching sessions on how to better balance their professional and private life. A thousand employees have participated in these sessions so far.

“If you manage with purpose, heart and mind, you create such strong connections between people that you will achieve great results.”

Hervé Thibergien Chief People Officer, Member of the Executive Committee

Installing remote working

Building on positive feedback about remote working during the year, we decided to integrate mobile working into the Group’s work standard. Through our surveys, colleagues stated they enjoyed flexible hours, extra time with families, not having to commute, and being more focused and productive. In fact, 70% said they want to keep doing part of their work from home.

Digital tools to help employees be in the driver’s seat

We created the YOU digital platform, which helps each employee create his/her own career path and benefit from multiple tools to develop his/her competencies. It also provides managers with a comprehensive view of skills throughout the Group.

Increasing inclusion, equity and diversity

Solvay is dedicated to cultivating a diverse workforce in every sense including, gender, culture, sexual orientation, personality and skills. We want to foster inclusion because it will unlock the potential of diversity at Solvay. We have made a strong commitment that by 2035, half of mid and senior managers will be women.


employees have been teleworking since mid-March 2020


respondents to the survey want to continue teleworking part of time


women in mid- and senior management by 2035