The Umicore Way is the cornerstone of everything we do at Umicore and is also the basis of our management approach. The Umicore Way is supplemented by detailed company codes, setting guidelines throughout the company. These codes include:
- The Code of Conduct, which contains a comprehensive framework for ethical business practice;
- The Umicore Corporate Governance Charter, which sets out our management philosophy and governance principles;
- The Umicore insider dealing code, which spells out Umicore’s policy in respect of market abuse including insider trading;
- The Umicore Global Sustainable Sourcing Policy which outlines our commitment to align our supply chain to our own values and practices; and
- many internal policies developed in support of our vision and values such as Safety, Human Rights and Working Conditions, Product Stewardship, Training & Development and Donations & Sponsorship, etc.
Our business model delivers positive impact for society. We offer solutions to sustainability challenges that are linked to megatrends and create value for all our stakeholders. Our 2030 RISE strategy is our compass for value creation.
Economic, environmental and social performance is measured annually against a set of KPIs reported through a group data management system. The data are collected and reported at the relevant entity level: site, region, business unit or business group. The corporate divisions aggregate the performance data from all parts of the Group to evaluate Umicore’s overall progress for review by the Management Board.
Both financial and non-financial performance indicators are included in overall general management performance measurement as described in our remuneration policy. The new remuneration policy which integrates climate, emissions, diversity and safety performance metrics for members of the Management Board was approved by shareholders at the annual general meeting in 2022. Performance data linked to the 2030 RISE strategy pillars is monitored using an internal dashboard and is featured as part of Umicore’s annual integrated reporting.
Umicore obtains third party assurance for both financial and non-financial/ESG data. Since 2021, this assurance has been carried out by EY in its capacity of statutory auditor. EY evaluates the completeness and reliability of the reported data as well as the robustness of the associated data management system. Performance indicators and reporting processes are reviewed and updated after every assurance cycle. Umicore is committed to transparency and increased disclosure, which is ongoing and will spread over several reporting cycles as part of a continuous improvement process.
Umicore business units and corporate functions are co-accountable for their contribution to the Group’s value creation and for their adherence to Group strategies, policies, standards and to the sustainable development approach. Business units are clustered in business groups according to strategic business development topics.
This implies an effective decision-making process based on clear allocation of responsibilities as described in the Governance overview, ensuring optimal balance between a culture of entrepreneurship at the level of the business units and effective steering and oversight processes centrally.
The tactical boards are key contributors to the corporate strategy and monitor its implementation. Day-to-day responsibility for the economic, social and environmental performance lies with the EVP, corporate function and business unit managers, as well as site managers. Corporate divisions develop technical guidance, ensuring collective understanding of concepts, definitions, roles and responsibilities. Regular workshops and meetings are organized each year at various levels of the organization to share best practices.
Our approach to strategy management derives from our vision to be a people-oriented, purpose-led and performance-driven organization.
Specific processes and guidelines have been developed to frame Umicore’s approach to the 2030 RISE strategy management that include dedicated market intelligence gathering and sharing, robust performance reporting and planning processes, capacity building, strategic positioning and thought leadership development; all of which are linked to, and embedded in, the other management elements described in this chapter.
The Chief Strategy Officer has overall oversight of Umicore’s strategy and performance and is supported by a dedicated team that monitors the Group’s performance against 2030 RISE objectives and ensures that integrated business planning is market- and performance-reactive and dynamic in nature.
Each member of the management board is responsible for the strategic performance of their business group or corporate division(s). Umicore business units and corporate functions are co-accountable for their contribution to the Group’s adherence to, and performance against, the 2030 RISE Strategy objectives.
Our approach to financial and economic management derives from our vision, values and organizational principles as described in The Umicore Way.
Umicore aims to create value for its shareholders. This is achieved through the development of a compelling strategy and a strong track record of delivering a solid performance against the strategic objectives. We seek to grow our existing businesses while maintaining or establishing strong leadership positions on the back of innovative technologies. Shareholder returns depend on the valuation of the Umicore stock and are supported by the payment of dividends.
Umicore aims to safeguard the business through sound financial management and by maintaining a strong balance sheet. While we have no fixed target regarding debt levels, we aim to maintain investment grade status at all times. We also seek to maintain a healthy balance between short- and longer-term debt and between debt secured at fixed and floating interest rates. This approach, coupled with strong cash flow generated from operations, allows us to self-fund the majority of our growth initiatives.
Specific internal policies and guidelines have been developed to frame Umicore’s approach to specific financial aspects including: dividends, financing and funding, transfer pricing, credit management and hedging.
Accountability for the overall financial performance of Umicore lies with the CEO, while each member of the Management Board is responsible for the financial performance of their business group or corporate division(s). The Chief Financial Officer has overall oversight of Umicore’s financial and economic performance and is supported by a Corporate Finance team that includes specific expertise centers covering aspects such as tax, treasury and accounting & control. The Director Financial Risk Management ensures that the key long-term commercial and investment programs will deliver in line with the RISE 2030 performance objectives and risk thresholds. At business unit level, the head of the business unit is responsible for the operational and financial performance of the business unit. Financial controllers support the heads of the business units in managing the financial and reporting aspects of the business unit and support the financial allocation process for environmental, climate, health and safety-related projects.
Umicore seeks to generate economic value through its existing businesses and any acquisitions or organic growth initiatives that it undertakes. This entails generating an operational return on capital employed (ROCE: adjusted EBIT / average capital employed for the period) in excess of our overall pre-tax cost of capital. This cost of capital can vary over time as a function of our risk profile and the state of the debt and equity markets. ROCE is one of the most important key performance indicators for steering Umicore.
We deal with precious and other rare metals and we therefore have relatively high working capital intensity. Management is therefore incentivized to optimize performance both from an earnings perspective and by minimizing capital employed.
Investments are assessed on a case-by-case basis: acquisitions are expected to be earnings-enhancing in the early phase of their integration and value-enhancing shortly thereafter. Similar criteria exist for organic investments, although the pursuit of longer-term growth projects invariably requires a longer view on expected returns.
Umicore seeks to maintain market leadership positions in recycling and clean mobility materials. The nature of our business, which consists of products for highly specific applications, means that we do not have a presence in any country or region which makes up a significant part of that country or region’s economy. Our business is global in nature with 44 production sites in 34 countries.
When designing growth projects, we carefully consider overall contribution to our sustainability/ESG ambitions.
Understanding the increasing importance of climate resilience, we integrate the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), mitigate our climate-related risks and pursue opportunities linked to climate change mitigation. Managing these risks and opportunities is closely linked to our business model and our vision for global operations and positive impact on society.
To deliver operational excellence, Umicore focuses on three pillars: people, competencies and values.
People need to be equipped and digitalization roles filled, which is the task of the Umicore Technical and Digital Academy. Competencies are developed in centers of expertise, such as the cloud center of expertise, the computational science center, the data management center and the robotics center. Values are developed in roadmaps and project managers guide business units to set up projects.
KPIs on operational excellence and digitalization have been set up and business units have been given objectives from the management board, for example to improve EBIT through digitalization.
Specific internal policies and guidelines have been developed to frame Umicore’s approach to specific operational aspects including ROCE calculation methodologies, ROCE targets and Mergers & Acquisitions.
Management Board members are each responsible for operational management and performance within their reporting lines. The Chief Strategy Officer leads the Digitalization & Operational Excellence Board and has oversight of mergers and acquisitions supported by the Corporate Development department, and of ensuring the Group’s operational integration of the 2030 RISE objectives and monitoring performance. At business unit level, the head of the business unit is responsible for the overall operational performance. The general manager of each site has a similar responsibility at site level.
Technology is at the core of what we do and enables our capability to deliver value to our customers and markets by developing state of the art products, processes and services. Sustainability is a key driver of our technology development, targeting safe processes, sustainable products, supply and processes, with ambitious targets to go for zero GHG emissions in 2035 for Scope 1 and 2. We invest consistently between 5 and 7% of revenues (excluding metal) in R&D and innovation, working on the basis of a balanced portfolio ensuring short-term delivery to our businesses and customers while carefully preparing for the longer-term future. Our portfolio spans over three time horizons and includes a core competence dimension, securing technological excellence in all crucial areas.
All business units develop a business roadmap that translates to a product and service roadmap, both of which are linked to a technology and competence roadmap. These roadmaps are validated regularly based on changes in markets and technologies and are used to steer our project and activity portfolio.
R&D at Umicore consists of a hybrid R&D organization, with business-specific R&D complemented with corporate R&D and a new business incubator, each with specific roles and responsibilities. These R&D departments come together in an innovation excellence working group, reviewing how R&D can analyze, measure and improve effectiveness and efficiency. This working group also evaluates cross-activity synergies and common topics including R&D talent development, digitalization of R&D and advises the CEO on innovation management.
The Management Board reviews the complete portfolio of technology and innovation on a quarterly basis, covering all program milestones, competences and innovation value and performance KPIs as part of the tactical Technology & Innovation Board, which is led by the CEO and coordinated by corporate R&D through a central project management office, which connects to various project management offices across Umicore for alignment.
Business units are responsible for the setup, delivery and evaluation of their project portfolio in line with customer and market expectations.
At Umicore, we recognize the urgent need to transition towards a more sustainable future. Umicore’s commitment to supporting that transition is long-standing and continues through 2030 RISE, in a way that requires bold ambitions and actions. Our business model is dedicated to delivering sustainable products and services, and we are committed to leveraging our expertise and resources to developing safe, sustainable, and innovative solutions that enhance the quality of life for people and the planet. Umicore strives to maximize the positive impact on society, through our operations, in our value chain and with our products and services.
As a signatory of the UN Global Compact, Umicore is looking through the lens of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to maximize its contribution to society. The relationship with our stakeholders is essential to building shared value and plays a key role in the promotion of social and environmental best practices. Upstream, we specifically act to eliminate any social or environmental harm in our supply chain. In our operations, we work to ensure a safe, healthy, equitable and sustainable work environment and to pursue opportunities for positive impact of our operations on local communities, nature and climate change. Downstream, we increase the positive impact of our products and services by working directly with our customers and through our commitment to sustainable and responsible sourcing choices. A detailed overview of our performance indicators for our ESG impact can be found in Environment, Society, and in the Environmental and Social Statements.
Because Umicore always strives to reach the highest possible impact for society, a more ambitious regulatory agenda in terms of sustainability creates market opportunities for the Group. Beyond providing insights to authorities and co-creating technology roadmaps, Umicore aims to share knowledge and work collaboratively with many partners to advance the global transition towards a sustainable future. (See “advocacy for impact”)
Umicore is committed to supporting the Ten Principles of the United Nations Global Compact in the areas of Human Rights, Labor, Environment and Anti-Corruption, and to contributing to the SDGs. In our annual integrated reporting, we describe our actions to continually improve and monitor the way our strategy, culture, and daily operations contribute to ambitions and support the Global Compact and its principles. We identify SDGs where we have the largest impact and disclose our efforts towards contributing to these goals.
The 2030 RISE ambition to be a Sustainability Champion defines our commitment in terms of maximizing positive impact. Our “Let’s Go for Zero” ESG ambitions, launched in 2021, (Net Zero GHGs, Zero Harm, Zero Inequality and Best-in-class Governance, see Strategy) set the course of action through targets that are embedded in the other management elements described in this chapter.
An internal Group EHS Guidance Note, where the environmental guidance was developed in accordance to ISO14001 “Environmental Management Systems”, is applicable worldwide for all consolidated operations where Umicore has management control, including all business units and to the extent relevant and applicable, corporate functions. It details the approach to measuring impacts, performance and risks and reporting on environmental topics including eco-efficiency, emissions to air, water and soil, waste generation, energy use and climate change. In addition, a specific internal Energy efficiency and reduction of carbon footprint policy brings a high-level awareness and commitment at sites and within business units to strive for continual energy efficiency improvement. Umicore also encourages all initiatives that increase recycling potential. On a global scale, metals recycling reduces the environmental, climate and social related impacts to the sourcing and transformation of metals into products.
Our approach to responsible sourcing is described in the Umicore Global Sustainable Sourcing Policy and the supporting sourcing frameworks, e.g: the Sustainable Procurement Framework for Cobalt and the Responsible global supply chain of minerals from conflict-affected and high risk areas Policy.
Our commitment to ensuring the safety and sustainability of our products throughout their lifecycle is detailed in a number of internal policies and supported by a robust lifecycle assessment process. (See "Umicore product stewardship").
Umicore has a Group Policy on donations and sponsorships with general guidelines on the thematic focus of donations and on budget allocation. Group donations focus on projects with an international scope, with priority given to initiatives that have a clear link with sustainable development and that have an educational component. Umicore is also committed to doing its part when it comes to global relief efforts, and a part of Group donations is allocated to disaster relief. Most of the donations from the business units go to charities close to their sites, in support of the local community. As a matter of policy, Umicore does not make donations to political parties or organizations.
Accountability for the overall positive impact of Umicore lies with the CEO. For donations at Group level, the budget is set at the discretion of the CEO and donations are coordinated and managed by a Group Donations Committee reporting to the CEO.
In the management board, the EVP ESG, General Counsel and lead for the tactical ESG Board oversees sustainability/ESG integration, performance, strategy, engagement and disclosure. The tactical ESG board is supported by an ESG steering committee that brings together senior management representatives from each business group, as well as senior management representatives of corporate Environment, Health and Safety (EHS), ESG, Finance and HR. Implementation and performance against ESG KPIs are reviewed monthly by the ESG steering committee and recorded using an internal dashboard which is monitored and discussed as part of the tactical ESG Board. The management board members are each responsible for the overall ESG performance within their reporting lines, including e.g., sustainable and responsible sourcing, decarbonization or diversity in recruitment.
The Senior Vice-President (SVP) for Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) is responsible for ensuring environmental compliance, risk mitigation and data reporting across Group activities. A new dedicated corporate ESG division manages the programs aimed at the creation, integration and acceleration of strategic ESG initiatives (e.g., Scopes 1, 2 and 3 decarbonization, environmental impact, responsible sourcing) as well as programs or initiatives linked to governance topics, stakeholder engagement and materiality, ESG strategy, green finance and ESG disclosure. Corporate ESG is co-accountable with business units and corporate divisions in delivering performance, where each has (ESG topic) champions, that together with the corporate ESG team work to implement the most efficient pathways to reaching our shared goals.
Our approach to workforce management derives from the vision, values and organizational principles found in The Umicore Way and is reflected in the Global Framework Agreement on Sustainable Development, to which we subscribed in 2007, and renewed in 2019. Umicore implements the guidance on Human Rights, collective bargaining, equal opportunities, violence and harassment at work, safe and healthy working conditions and environmental issues.
Umicore is committed to zero inequality and zero harm and we believe it is equally important to continuously monitor, control and report our social performance and the wellbeing of our workforce. Our workforce performance indicators can be found in Employees and in the Social Statements sections of this report.
An internal Group Social Reporting Guidance Note provides detailed guidance on measuring and reporting on social performance. Specific internal policies have been developed to frame specific elements of our social management approach including Diversity & Inclusion, Recruitment, Safety, Human Rights and Working Conditions and Training & Development.
For our approach to health and safety, the Group EHS Guidance Note, where the health and safety guidance was developed in accordance to OHSAS18001 “Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series”, is applicable worldwide for all consolidated operations where Umicore has management control, including all business units and to the extent relevant and applicable, corporate functions. It details the approach to measuring impacts, performance and risks and reporting on occupational health and safety and provides a framework for the business units and sites.
The Umicore Group Safety Policy provides a framework for business units to develop and implement safety programs needed to achieve and maintain excellence in safety performance. The Policy is guided by universal core safety principles that can be translated by each business unit to their specific environment to take actions according to their specific risks.
In the Management Board, the CEO has oversight responsibilities for Umicore’s Human Resources and leads the tactical People & Organization Board, which is managed by the SVP Human Resources. The EVP ESG and General Counsel is responsible for health and safety matters and co-accountable for performance against diversity goals. The SVP EHS is responsible for ensuring safety compliance, performance and reporting across Group activities.
The Management Board members are each responsible for the overall workforce performance within their reporting lines. At business unit level, the head of the business unit is responsible for workforce performance. The general manager of each site has a similar responsibility at site level. A regional Human Resources organization exists to manage social aspects at regional and country level, and to provide structural support to the business units in all aspects of human resources and health and safety management.
Implementation and performance against health and safety KPIs are internally measured and reported on a monthly basis. Implementation and performance against workforce KPIs are monitored as part of the People & Organization Board. Implementation and performance against diversity and health and safety KPIs are also monitored as part of the ESG Board. Workforce, health and safety performance are featured as part of Umicore’s annual integrated reporting.