Great place to work

Our success is measured by our ability to offer a safe workplace and embed a safety culture in our workforce, to monitor, manage and protect our employees from exposure risks, to ensure Umicore’s status as an employer of choice in all the regions where we operate and to manage talent as a driver for reaching our desired business growth.

We are proud of our position as a pioneer and world leader in materials technology and sustainability, but in a disruptive industry, we need to continue innovating, challenging the status quo and growing, both as a company and as an employer.

Group employees


Women in our workforce


Retention rate


We strive to create an environment in which all our employees can succeed, and which encourages innovation, thrives on collaboration, rewards contribution and provides every employee with the opportunity to develop.

The varying ambitions and interests of our colleagues and new recruits enrich Umicore with new outlooks and new ways of working together which build our competitive advantage.

Our values and mutual respect remain consistent as we all work towards the same vision: to create materials for a better life.

Umicore has a truly global profile, with operations on every major continent. 10,859 employees currently work at Umicore, across 47 production sites, 15 research & development centers and in supporting offices including our global headquarters in Brussels.

Our Horizon 2020 strategy is designed to consider the future trends that impact Umicore, the labor market and societal expectations. Our objectives are centered on health and safety, talent management, diversity and employability – aspects that will have the greatest impact on reaching Horizon 2020 goals.

Despite competitive markets we are making strides in talent management, diversity and employee engagement. We continue to pursue our long-term goals of eliminating lost-time accidents and occupational-related ill-health and to seek new ways of engaging colleagues by promoting safety and wellbeing in the workplace.


The safety of our people is a key priority.

Zero accidents

In 2020, while 83% of the reporting sites operated without a lost time accident, our overall safety results were again disappointing. In December 2020, a fatal accident occurred at Umicore’s Cobalt & Specialty Materials site in Subic, the Philippines. This tragic event shows once more that the journey to make Umicore a zero-accident workplace is far from completion, even in sites with an outstanding safety track record such as Subic which had operated more than 13 years without LTA.

Umicore recorded 49 lost time accidents in 2020 compared to 90 in 2019. The frequency rate was 2.52 (4.60 in 2019) and the severity rate was 0.47 (0.20 in 2019).

Lost Time Accidents


Reporting sites without LTA


Exposure Ratio,
all biomarkers aggregated


In the past we reported that there is a clear need to change behavior and mindset to install a true safety culture. While absence from the workplace due to the COVID crisis did not have an impact on lost time accidents, we have noted that health precautions tied to the crisis did improve the safety culture at Umicore. The sense of urgency in the face of the crisis, the purposeful care of one another combined with a workplace communications style that focused on safety coaching resulted in improved safety performance. Umicore’s commitment to safety is unwavering, and these results have confirmed that tackling cultural change in terms of safety is the right path to creating a safe and great place to work.

In 2020, process safety activities focused on executing process risk assessment studies. At year end,over 70% of the production processes had received specific process hazard and risk assessments compliant with Umicore standards. A detailed timeline for completion of the remaining studies over the coming years gives priority to processes with high risk-profiles.

Umicore continues our internal HAZOP leader training program to increase and secure process safety knowledge.


Umicore makes continuous efforts to eliminate occupational-related health issues and to promote wellbeing in the workplace. The main occupational health risks are related to exposure to hazardous substances and physical hazards (mainly noise).

Umicore is leading the industry by setting voluntary, science-based targets for potentially hazardous exposure that are more stringent than legal requirements, where they exist.

All employees with a potential workplace exposure to any of the target metals (arsenic, cadmium, cobalt, indium, nickel, lead and platinum salts) or other metals are monitored by an occupational health program. The Horizon 2020 objective for occupational exposure is to reduce to zero the number of individual readings that indicate an exposure for an employee that is higher than the internal target levels. While these excess readings do not necessarily indicate a risk for the person concerned, they are important indicators of recent or lifetime exposure and are used as the basis for further improvements on specific sites.

In 2020, a total of 7,406 biological samples were taken from employees with occupational exposure to at least one of the metals mentioned above (platinum salts excluded). 122 readings showed a result in excess of the internal target value, bringing the total excess rate to 1.6%, down from 1.8% in 2019 and 3.2% at the beginning of our Horizon 2020 strategic cycle. All occupationally exposed employees are regularly monitored by an occupational health physician.


Talent management involves finding and retaining the right people at all levels of the organization and in a wide variety of functions, including equipment operators, laboratory analysts, office staff and production engineers. For Umicore the main drivers are linked to the Horizon 2020 growth ambitions in the sectors and regions where we are active.

The number of employees in the fully consolidated companies decreased from 11,152 at the end of 2019 to 10,859 at the end of 2020. This decrease mainly reflects the plant closures in Tulsa, US (Automotive Catalysts) and Wickliffe, US (Cobalt & Specialty Materials).


Umicore can attract, develop and retain high caliber leaders by offering attractive and challenging leadership roles.

In 2020, following up on the outcomes of the previous year’s talent review, Umicore implemented mentoring programs for emerging talent, including for young top talent, with targeted development programs. These programs revolve around developing broad profiles and providing multifunctional development opportunities.



In 2020, our overall retention rate increased to 96%, up from 94% in 2019. Significant regional differences in retention rates continue, with Asia-Pacific reporting the highest voluntary leaver rate at 9.25%, an improvement from 11.87% in 2019.

Umicore provides managers with a training curriculum aligned across all regions and promotes career development using an internal online vacancies tool, promoting greater internal mobility. Training at Umicore encompasses traditional classroom-type modules, e-learning and in-service instruction.



In 2020, the average training hours per employee reached 36 hours, lower than 49 hours in 2019, primarily due to COVID-19. Due to the pandemic, training was organized differently: in smaller groups and respecting social distancing where in-person presence was possible, and through online sessions. Some training was postponed or cancelled. In 2020, managers training hours (27 hours) were lower than for other employees (39 hours).


Umicore seeks to benefit as much as possible from diversity, for example in gender, culture and ethnicity. Umicore believes that more diverse management teams improve the quality of decision-making.

Umicore developed a group policy on diversity to support an inclusive work culture that offers equal opportunities, leading to a high level of employee engagement for all employees, irrespective of their diverse backgrounds. Diversity includes gender, religion, race, national or ethnic origin, cultural background, social group, disability, sexual orientation, marital status, age or political opinion.

We are especially seeking broader cultural representation in our management teams.

Considering that 60% of our revenues are generated outside Europe and our growing global footprint, we decided to act to ensure that non-Europeans are better represented in our senior management. Currently, 20% of the top management positions in Umicore are filled by non-Europeans, up from 18.5% from 2019 and 16.7% in 2016. Our efforts continue, as a better balance in this regard will enable us to make business decisions that are better aligned with the markets we serve. Umicore employees covered 74 nationalities in 2020, as in 2019.

Women are underrepresented at senior management level at Umicore.

While this can be partly ascribed to the fact that chemical companies tend to attract fewer women, the career prospects for talented women can still be improved within Umicore. In 2020, only 21.6% of Umicore employees were female, a slight increase from 2019. This is attributed to the nature of industrial operations, where candidates are usually male. Despite this, our commitment to an inclusive and diverse workplace remains.

Our overall focus continues to be on recruiting and developing female managers. In 2020, 30% of managers recruited were female. Women in management roles have slowly increased from 18.6% in 2010 to 23% in 2020. The number of overall managers grew again in 2020, leading to a slightly decreased share of women in these roles from 23.1% in 2019 to 23% in 2020, despite our recruitment efforts.

Women in senior management decreased slightly to 10.7% in 2020, down from 10.9% in 2019, and below our overall ambition of 15% by 2020. We remain committed to increasing the female representation in senior management at the earliest possible date.


In today’s dynamic environment, digital literacy and a mindset focused on collaboration, transparency and self-organized learning are crucial. If applied correctly, digital tools can improve efficiency, productivity and innovation. Yet providing tools and training is not enough. The most difficult and most important step is to change familiar patterns and ways of thinking. Employees need to break out of their comfort zone, share successes and failures transparently, try out new approaches, network across regions and departments, take the initiative and be empowered to do all this through an appropriate environment.

The vision of our digital workplace is to enable everyone within Umicore to collaborate from anywhere in the world.

Keeping our colleagues connected thanks to the digital workplace

Launched globally in December 2019, Umicore’s Digital Workplace project aimed to improve the efficiency, productivity and innovation of our employees by optimally using digital tools. The vision of our digital workplace is to enable everyone within Umicore to collaborate from anywhere in the world, sharing experiences and knowledge through a worldwide network as part of our daily routine.

Little did we know at the end of 2019 that the timing of the launch of Umicore’s digital workplace would come at exactly the right time, given the spread of COVID-19 a few months later. By the time the first wave of the pandemic hit, Umicore employees had been using the digital tools on a daily basis for several weeks already. Digital meetings and calls had become part of our routine and collaborating on documents for projects was becoming increasingly common.

Digital heroes to the rescue

When the COVID-19 pandemic made it impossible to hold physical meetings and so many of us had to work from home, Umicore employees were familiar with the digital tools. As such, they were able to keep our activities running and stay connected with colleagues, almost as in normal times. Those in need of support could rely on an ambassador community of ‘digital heroes’ to personally help them solve technical issues. We also hosted a series of specific learning sessions on digital workplace topics such as remote working, efficient online meetings, file sharing and virtual leadership.

Digital alternatives

As the uncertainties around COVID-19 and the corresponding safety measures persisted throughout 2020, many Umicore employees began looking for innovative solutions to their daily challenges which they found in the digital workplace. For example, audits were conducted remotely; physical town hall meetings (where information is typically shared to a broad live audience) were successfully replaced by virtual town hall meetings; a digital onboarding program was implemented to virtually welcome new employees joining during the pandemic; and to maintain the connection between colleagues, virtual social events were hosted, such as birthday celebrations. In our operations, smart glasses made it possible to install production systems in some of our plants.

Amidst the many challenges of 2020, our digital workplace enabled us to seize the opportunity to stay connected and engaged with our global community of colleagues.

working at Umicore

We aim to lead the way, both for our customers and for our employees.

We strive to create a collaborative environment and a culture of shared ideas, developing expertise and advancing careers, working together on technologies that will benefit future generations and setting new standards in one of the world’s most dynamic and disruptive industries.


In our state-of-the-art production processes technical operators, production supervisors and engineers use their know-how and ideas to benefit future generations. Our support teams play a critical role in supporting the business growth by making sure our decisions are commercially viable, enhancing our reputation, building new customer relationships or finding the right people who can build on what we have already achieved.

Managers at Umicore work on projects that are as exciting as they are challenging. R&D experts develop the technologies that address issues from clean mobility to resource scarcity.

We seek to ensure career-long learning and development opportunities for our employees and to promote the transferability of skills and knowledge across Umicore.

The Junior Management Program (JUMP) is offered to a selected group of junior managers using a “twin-coaching” format, bringing together two participants from different regions and business units, but within the same function family, to develop international thinking, shadow best practices and provide exposure to other business units.

Leading for Excellence (L4E) is offered to a selected group of managers in the Asia Pacific region to drive performance in the region by fostering collaboration and engagement across sites and sharpening leadership skills.

Entrepreneurs for Tomorrow (E4T) is offered to a selected group of middle to senior managers to develop corporate culture with highly competent managers and promote cross-functional integration within Umicore.

The Strategic Leadership Program is offered to a selected group of senior managers, organized in collaboration with INSEAD. Participants move from exploration of the economic ‘macro-environment’, through doing business in Asia, to the challenges of creating an agile strategy and an aligned organization and developing their personal leadership style.

People work longer before retiring, particularly in Europe. Umicore wants to ensure that people who are working well into their sixties are provided with suitable, motivating and rewarding work and can transfer their skills and knowledge to younger colleagues. This is accomplished by training, maintaining their mental flexibility to carry out new tasks, managing work-life issues, and providing support in the transition from employee to retiree.