Mission India: is there another way?

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Providing home safety education, donating blood, or planting trees don’t really sound like the activities of a chemical company, do they? Working with chemicals has negative connotations regarding the environment and local communities. But we’ve been working hard to show there is another way.
  
In 2013, Solvay signed a corporate social responsibility (CSR) agreementwith IndustriALL Global Union. It’s a flagship agreement in the chemical industry that applies to all staff in the 50 countries where we are.
  
We aren’t the first company to sign an agreement like this, but we feel we’re unique in the way we bring it to life – with our Solvay Way CSR program. Our set of 49 best practices makes our belief a reality – that better chemical solutions need not come at the expense of the environment and that there has to be respect for people’s lives.
With the agreement, we’ve committed to respecting international safety standards as defined by the International Labor Organization and complying with the principles of the United Nations Global Compact.

Mission 1: India

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Monitoring our progress

You can imagine that most European standards can challenge some of the cultural habits in India. And although it may have been seen as one of our more challenging locations, our plants in Panoli, Roha, and Rasal welcomed the first IndustriALL evaluation in November 2014.

The feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive. While the Panoli site revealed a high level of industrial management, and the Roha site showed high quality industrial and social management, our Rasal site – which was purchased two years ago – still has a little way to go.

Steps have been taken, but safety needs to be improved further as does communication. So we are working with our employees to help them present themselves better and empowering them to take more responsibility. I think in two years we’ll be able to get this up to the benchmark standard of our other sites. 

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India puts Solvay Way in action

Empowering employees

While we ensure that our employees are up-to-date on first aid and safety training, we also try to look after their interests beyond the workplace. 

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For example, last year we provided programs such as electrical fire and home safety training for the families of our employees. 

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The delicious food and cultural program from our annual family get-together night in 2014 was enjoyed by 550 plant workers and their families. 

Caring for the environment

By planting over 120 trees at local schools last year, we were able to both increase awareness among students about the environment and make a valuable contribution to the local area.

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We have also significantly reduced wastewater from our plants and are close to completing the upgrade of our wastewater treatment unit at the Novecare site in Roha

Community service

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It’s really important that we know what people think in the communities we work in. That’s why we invited people from the local villages to our plants to explain our initiatives and hear what they had to say. We also held healthcare initiatives, such as blood donation camps at Rasal and Roha, and an eye care clinic where 54 locals were offered free advice and diagnosis. 

One of our biggest community projects is our initiative to “adopt” six girls below the poverty line by taking care of their full education expenses. We hope to adopt 10 more in the next two to three years. Meanwhile, we also donate equipment to local schools, such as computers and gas cylinders (to cook lunch).

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Keeping it up

The IndustriALL visits gave our employees the chance to exchange views with global leaders. And it was exciting as we were able to gain constructive feedback, and many of the good suggestions from them are now being implemented. We’re all very motivated to do even better. 

Outside of Solvay, this was a productive mission too. The Roha site has shared good practices with government authorities and officials advising other industries. 

We all want something we can be proud of, something to put our heart and soul into and feel like we have really made a difference. And for me, what could be more important than doing that where we live, work, and play.