Solvay One Dignity: Employee Resource Groups at the heart of our DEI commitment
Diversity, equity and inclusion at Solvay operates from grassroots level on up
With the launch of our accelerated Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) program, Solvay One Dignity, we are committed to creating and sustaining an environment that works for all Solvay employees. As our CEO Ilham Kadri said, “When colleagues are free to bring their whole selves to work, we can create true value for all, and help Solvay flourish.” This is why we have made the development of Employee Resource Groups (ERG) one of our nine DEI objectives to be achieved by 2025.
“If we want to succeed in our DEI ambitions and achieve our commitments as a company, we need to operate at a grassroots level,” Nathalie van Ypersele, Head of DEI at Solvay explains. “DEI is not a question of statistics, it’s a question of culture and mindset. To create a more inclusive culture, our Employee Resource Groups provide a safe space to share experiences and a platform for employees to ‘speak up’ as well as to share the challenges employees face across the company.”
So what are Employee Resource Groups anyway?
ERGs are voluntary groups, run by and for employees who share a common background, interest, or concern. Their aim is to foster an inclusive and diverse work environment through grassroots communities that promote the professional and personal development of their members in the workplace. They also provide a safe space to speak up and identify opportunities for better employee engagement. While an ERG is rooted in its own common characteristics, its program is aligned with the organization’s DEI mission and values.
Employee-run groups are indispensable for business development and sustainability. In fact today, up to 90% of Fortune 500 companies house all kinds of ERGs, and consider them key contributors to their company strategy. ERGs can help organizations identify and develop internal leaders, increase retention rates, drive recruitment from a diverse talent pool, and spark innovation across the business.
Raising the bar for representation
“We want the group to be organized around the pillars of representation, inclusion and community engagement,” explains Anisha Naidu, a founder of the African American Employee Group, which is launching in September of this year. “We’re at the inception, but we’re seeing a lot of momentum already. The group has already created a safe space for colleagues to build community, make connections, and share interests and events that are common.”
“There’s a lot of attention focused on improving race relations in the US,” fellow member Cheryl Staton explains. Cheryl is currently serving as the group’s Ambassador. “We want to build on that momentum by being open to all employees who are willing and wanting to listen, learn, and build a more inclusive environment for African Americans.”
“X-Factor looks at what unites men and women, not what separates us. And what unites us is the X chromosome. So that's where the name came from,” explains Eva Heintz, founder of Solvay’s X-Factor, a group that since 2017 has been promoting better recognition of female talent in Solvay through mentorship, networking and professional development, and encourages women’s roles in senior executive positions. “X-Factor gives the women in Solvay an opportunity to connect, to tap into the resources that the ERG provides, and to grow.”
With over 220 members across GBUs, X-Factor has launched several successful initiatives to support its program. With Wednesday Women Day, the group presents Solvay’s diverse female talent to the outside world. Rock Your LinkedIn Profile workshops have taught employees how to use the social platform for B2B interactions and networking, and mentorship program, Mentor X-Perience, has seen middle and senior leadership step up as mentors – men included. Gender Strategist Jeffrey Halter has even paid the group a visit to elaborate on how to engage men in helping women advance.
X-Factor looks at what unites men and women, not what separates us. And what unites us is the X chromosome.
Building the future of Solvay, together
“To create an inclusive and equitable environment that will lead to increased diversity, we need feedback from our entire company,” Nathalie van Ypersele concludes. “That’s why we need diversity across our ERGs as well. My hope for the future is to greatly expand our ERG network and have a diverse range of ERGs - including Women, LGBTQi+ , Men Advocating for Real Change (MARC) and different ethnicities - support our DEI cause. Our employees are the beating heart of Solvay. We want their voices to be heard and represented.”