People: who we are
Our success is driven by the skills, passion and diversity of our people
As the 2030 RISE Strategy sets out the next exciting chapter for Umicore, as the circular materials technology company, our people, with their skills, experience and energy, are even vital to our success. They are what make Umicore one of the most exciting, influential and attractive companies in which to work.
As a result, we continue to invest significant resources in ensuring we are an employer of choice in all the regions where we operate. We support our employees in every way we can, and we support their right to collective bargaining by engaging in constructive dialogue with them.
The year 2022 was a particularly busy year for Umicore. At Group level the new 2030 RISE Strategy was unveiled, which was translated into Sirius, the HR strategy that was launched in December and that fully equips all our colleagues, current and future, for the coming transformation and the unprecedented growth of our company. It will help us deal with challenges such as the war for talent, diversity and inclusion, agility and wellbeing and meeting the specific needs of the Business Units by applying best practices and standardization across processes. At the same time, the Sirius HR model ensures greater efficiency and effectiveness where HR is closer to our employees thanks to streamlined, consistent and organized processes.
The Sirius strategy was inspired by the strong foundations, as well as the four distinct pillars that were defined in the Let’s Go for Zero ambitions and the existing people strategy, which upheld our Umicore values and help us to create the truly caring company that we are today.
- Diversity & Inclusion – the way we think
- Agile Way of Working – the way we lead
- Learning & Growth – the way we learn
- Wellbeing – the way we care
Engraining diversity & inclusion in the way we think
An inclusive work culture is essential for every employee to feel good at work and to be prepared for success. In 2022, we invested considerable time and resources in developing our D&I Strategy with various training programs and initiatives offered at corporate and regional levels. Diversity & Inclusion: the way we think.
Adopting the agile way
Agility in business is essential to maintain a competitive edge in a constantly evolving world. Implementing an agile mindset that brings together people, processes, connectivity and innovation to achieve better results requires a certain style of leadership backed up by a strong recruitment and development program. At Umicore, this past year we have worked hard in rolling out the Leadership Compass that points the way to transforming our organization to a more agile mindset. Talent management: the agile way.
Promoting continuous learning & growth
Keeping our employees engaged and motivated is as important as ensuring that we recruit the best. At Umicore, we actively promote a culture of learning and growth for all employees. Every year we invest significantly in training programs to support their personal development.
No comprising on wellbeing & safety – the way we care
Umicore strives to be a preferred employer of both current and prospective employees, and we are committed to their wellbeing and to ensuring that Umicore is a healthy place to work. Umicore promotes and safeguards physical, mental, social and occupational health in the workplace, because wellbeing is fundamental for a thriving workforce. Reducing stress and understanding local work cultures are key elements of our Wellbeing@work programs.
We do not compromise on safety. Everyone should be and feel safe at work. We seek to ensure the highest level of safety in all our facilities and aim for zero work-related injuries. We are committed to further developing our safety standards and to setting up a safety culture across all sites, which is why much time was dedicated to implementing a new Safety Strategy in 2022. Care is the basis to lead Umicore to zero work-related injuries and the Zero Harm target set in our Let’s Go for Zero ambitions. As part of the new strategy, 2022 saw the roll out of the Coaching for Safety program. (See "Occupational Safety")
Umicore is committed to providing competitive salaries and working conditions to our employees and to providing occupational and professional training opportunities. We empower all Umicore employees to contribute to Umicore’s success. Performance is appraised regularly and rewarded equitably. Our caring culture reinforces the sense of belonging at Umicore, which is also reflected in the fact that we maintain a strong retention rate.
The proof of this hard work and the impact of the various initiatives lies in the results.
Number of employees
OR COLLECTIVE LABOR AGREEMENT (CLA)
Workforce: the way we are
In 2022, the total workforce increased by 590 employees to a total of 14,229. The number of employees in the fully consolidated companies increased from 11,050 at the end of 2021 to 11,565 at the end of 2022, mainly due to growth in Europe. The most significant increase was in Belgium, Poland, Finland and Germany. In Belgium, the headcount increases related primarily to support our new 2030 RISE Strategy and increased production demands. In Poland, the workforce at the Nysa gigafactory more than doubled from the previous year. Amongst the associated companies there was an increase of 75 employees in 2022. Most Umicore employees work on a full-time basis, as illustrated by the full-time equivalent (FTE) of 11,339 (consolidated), which is very close to the reported headcount of 11,565 employees.
Umicore has had systematic Group-wide internal reporting on Code of Conduct matters since 2011, recording any breaches of The Umicore Way or our Code of Conduct Policy. In 2022, a total of 28 cases were reported, involving a total of 34 employees. Most of these cases were about personal misconduct. The type of action taken varies from a warning letter to dismissal. Despite all measures in place and a culture of transparency, reporting is only as complete as the information provided by the people involved.
Supporting collective bargaining & engaging in constructive dialogue
Umicore supports the right to organize collective bargaining agreements. While such practice is commonplace in Europe, in other locations collective bargaining mechanisms and trade unions may be less common or face local legal restrictions. In 2022, the highest representation was in South America and Europe and the lowest in North America. With a slight decrease from 66.94% in 2021, 65.79% of Umicore employees belong to a trade union organization and/or the level of their wages were negotiated through a collective bargaining agreement in 2022.
We engage in constructive dialogue with our employees and their representatives. Umicore signed the Sustainable Development Agreement with the international union IndustriALL in 2019. The agreement covers the global implementation of several policies including human rights, equal opportunities, labor conditions, ethical conduct, environmental protection and the participation of trade unions in the pursuit of these objectives. All Umicore sites are screened internally each year. In 2022, this screening showed that none of Umicore’s sites demonstrated a particular risk of infringement of any of the principles of the agreement. See the full text of the agreement here.
Equal pay for work of equal value
Umicore is committed to upholding the right to adequate remuneration for all employees. Fair and equitable remuneration is a fundamental element of Umicore’s remuneration policies and processes. Remuneration and all other benefits are based on the principle of fairness and are defined on the basis of whichever is highest among the following criteria:
- national legal standards, or
- standards of the national branches, or
- collective labor agreements
As part of our Let’s Go for Zero ambitions embedded within the 2030 RISE Strategy, Umicore engaged Deloitte to assess its gender pay equality, using a regression analysis to gain insights into the different wage drivers and to calculate an adjusted pay gap. The adjusted pay gap is the wage difference after factoring out non-gender effects (such as age, tenure, education, etc.). This assessment approach was piloted for managers employed in Belgium in 2022 (which represents 27% of the Group manager population globally).The 2022 average adjusted pay gap for women in management roles in Belgium was well below the 5% threshold described in the proposed EU approach. The analysis did not include other Belgian employee categories as they are subject to a fixed wage scheme that is defined within collective labor agreements. This adjusted pay gap analysis will be carried out progressively, starting with the Group's largest sites. Umicore will continue to monitor and take action where necessary.
In the increasingly competitive climate, we want to remain an employer of choice to attract and retain the brightest and most talented across the globe.
% of employees
% of employee category
Diversity & inclusion: the way we think
Umicore believes in equal opportunities, fairness, diversity and inclusion. We welcome all individuals regardless of age, cultural background, disability, ethnicity, gender, marital status, political opinion, religion, or sexual orientation. We value a mix of ambitions, approaches, educational backgrounds, experiences, interests, personalities, skills, and views.
At Umicore everyone is valued equally, treated equally and paid equally for equal efforts. This goal of Zero Inequality is central to our Let's Go for Zero ambitions and is embedded within our new Umicore 2030 RISE Strategy.
Umicore has committed to increase diversity, be it gender, nationality, age or experiences while ensuring Zero Inequality.
Embracing cultural differences
At Umicore, we believe that diversity of thought will keep us ahead of the competition. We want our workforce to reflect the societies in which we operate, building a diverse, inspiring and collaborative workplace in which everyone can thrive. Diverse teams bring diverse perspectives, improving innovation and ultimately performance at Umicore. As our global footprint continues to grow, we seek to increase the diversity of experiences and cultures across the Group, particularly within senior management. A better balance in this regard will enable us to make business decisions that are strongly aligned with the markets we serve.
One way to measure how far we are pushing the needle in meeting our D&I goals in terms of demographic and cognitive diversity, particularly among senior managers, is through the “Diversity of Thought index” that we have developed. The index is also supported by initiatives linked to building more inclusive leadership (linked to the Leadership Compass). In 2022, we were on track to meet the 2024 goal, with a positive increase in diversity of nationalities and of experience, while diversity of gender represented the most challenging aspect.
In terms of international diversity: in 2022 our workforce comprised 80 nationalities. The share of non-European representation in senior management positions decreased slightly to 20.83% in 2022 from 21.57% in 2021. This ratio decrease is a result of rise of non-European senior managers proportional to the overall increase in the number of senior managers' positions.
Tackling unconscious bias
We all have unconscious biases, in other words stereotypes that are unintentional and deeply engrained within our subconscious. By becoming aware of these biases, we become more inclusive. In the context of the Let’s Go for Zero ambition and in the spirit of leading by example, the learning initiative “From unconscious bias to conscious inclusion” became mandatory for all managers as from 2022. It is also now available in eight different languages. With this training course we aim to increase awareness about unconscious bias as it is an important driver to increase equity, diversity and inclusion throughout the whole Group. This year over 70% of managers completed the training.
Reaching gender parity
Rebalancing gender at work means attracting more talented women, identifying those with high potential and fast tracking them into leadership positions. Reaching gender parity remains high on our agenda. That’s why we have set ourselves the Let’s Go for Zero target of gender parity as soon as possible, with an intermediate goal of 35% of women in management by 2030. In 2022, 23.45% of Umicore employees were women, which is an increase from 22.48% in 2021. Women in management roles have increased from 25% in 2021 to 26.11% in 2022.
“Inclusion unlocks the power of our diversity. We encourage an inclusive culture by welcoming different points of view, inspiring us to be even more innovative.”
Céline Van Haute, SVP Human Resources
To meet our gender diversity goals, our overall focus has continued to be on recruiting and developing female managers. Despite the number of actions including communication campaigns, specific programs and newly designed training in 2022, 31% of managers recruited were women, down from 45% in 2021 and lower than our 35% target. Several factors are at play here. Firstly, the spike witnessed in 2021 was much higher than the industry average and reflected the large number of managerial vacancies at Umicore. Secondly, the 2022 levels have fallen back to 2020 levels, which is more in line with the industry average, particularly given the global “war for talent”.
Diversity in age, abilities & orientations
D&I is much broader than discussions and actions around gender. Our initiatives also reach out to all ages, orientations and abilities. We work hard at Umicore to really ensure that all our colleagues are welcome and included within the #UmicoreFamily.
Various initiatives have been set up at the corporate and regional levels to support women in their careers. In Germany, workshops entitled “For Men Only: Tools for Inclusive Leadership” were organized in which male leaders were provided with the tools to establish fair and inclusive interaction in their team and in the company. While in China and APAC countries, female leaders can network with their peers in a tailor-made one-week Women in Business Leadership Program. In the China Young Graduate Program, which hires new graduates and provides two years fast-track development, 50% of new recruits are women.
One particularly inspiring female role model is our very own Operational Manager, Evelien De Wilde, who was chosen in 2022 as one of the “Inspiring Fifty” by a non-profit Belgian initiative that provides more visibility for women in technology.
To raise awareness and show support to the LGBTQIA+ community, “Queer at Umicore” was launched on the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia in 2022. “Queer at Umicore” is a grassroot movement and growing network sparked by the desire from both HR and employees to heed the doubts and questions their colleagues were presenting in the chat box during a webinar on LGBTQIA+.
Understanding generational diversity is essential for constructive collaboration. That’s why the buddy program was set up at Hoboken, Belgium, pairing colleagues from different backgrounds, generations and cultures to support each other at work.
Colleagues from the Information Systems team joined a partnership in 2022 with Autimatic, an external partner that offers job opportunities to people with autism proving that if we are willing to go beyond borders when it comes to recruitment and where we look for talent, magic can happen!
Our D&I strategy is already gaining positive attention. In China in 2022, our colleagues of Umicore’s Chinese headquarters participated in the “Leading DEI Best Practices Guide” program organized by the PageGroup and Hero in which they submitted the Umicore D&I best practices with the business world. Our D&I Strategy won the “Best Practice Silver Award”.
As a global company, Umicore is diverse by nature. As we continue our growth trajectory under the 2030 RISE Strategy, we will create more opportunities for diversity and continue our efforts towards greater inclusion.
Average hours of training per employee
Average hours of training per employee
Talent management: the agile way
To anticipate and seize opportunities in the market and to respond quickly to customer needs, Umicore has adopted an agile way of working – a key pillar in our former HR strategy and ever more relevant to meet the challenges of Umicore’s 2030 RISE strategy. Agility is our ability to anticipate, adapt and respond quickly to change. Agility means we engage in building a collaborative workplace where employees take the initiative, challenge the status quo and propose new solutions, across business units, functions and regions. All employees are encouraged to take ownership and to lead from wherever they stand.
Agility also implies a unique leadership model to ensure our success. That model is our Leadership Compass, launched in 2021, and further developed and implemented in 2022. The model combines three dimensions to leadership all of which must work in harmony as a complete mindset to ensure that Umicore has the agility to stay ahead of the pack.
- Win from within is inner drive, passion, purpose.
- Engage with impact meaning success is achieved by sharing and engaging with colleagues.
- Go beyond borders is the ability to see the outside perspective.
These three leadership dimensions are intrinsic to everything we do as leaders. Our leaders combine a winning approach, an entrepreneurial attitude and engagement with their teams and colleagues. They instill their passion and drive, care for their colleagues, and engage with their teams towards a common goal, calculating the risks by looking beyond their own horizon.
These behaviors are integrated into our HR processes – into our way of recruiting, our assessment tools, training courses, talent reviews, succession planning and our project management. In 2022, they have inspired various initiatives within teams across the Group such as training courses in the various regions or as part of the onboarding.
Encouraging employee mobility and stimulating learning
In line with the Umicore Way, we support an environment that values career mobility. Employee mobility is a way to bolster an agile way of working: working in more than one country, business unit or job family stimulates employees to adapt and to respond quickly to change.
We believe the only sustainable competitive advantage is an organization’s ability to learn faster than the competition. That’s why we engage in creating a culture of continuous learning in which employees take ownership of their personal and professional growth. Our prime focus is developing future-oriented skills and behaviors in our workforce ensuring that our employees have the right skills to contribute to our success and face the changes in the industry.
Various transition assistance programs also exist throughout the Group to ensure the ongoing employability of our people. From mentoring new graduates to preparing high potential colleagues for leadership positions, to the support for retirees and the various internal and external training courses for our employees to upgrade or acquire new skills.
Umicore promotes career development using an internal online vacancies tool and we operate a Group-wide learning management platform called “My Campus” and regular Talent Reviews.
Digitalization, blended learning & other formats
Digitalization of our training courses continued unabated throughout 2022 with roll out of several new courses under the Umicore Technical & Digital Academy(UTDA). The UTDA catalyzes cross Business Units and cross-regional “blended technical learning” and contributes to the success of Umicore as an innovative learning organization.
In Germany, short Impulse Workshops were created and offered to all employees for the first time in 2022. Following feedback from last year’s People Survey, additional effort also went into making training more accessible for blue collar workers. Such methods included: hanging posters with QR Codes, having quarterly Workers’ Council meetings to promote the new curriculum. The workshops focus on a particular topic, are provided in short sessions that are more easily incorporated into the working day and incorporate break-out sessions in which people can reflect and discuss together. Given that the workshops bring together participants from all levels and groups they are also an excellent place for networking and connection. In 2022, over 400 people were trained in eight workshops with more planned in 2023.
Umicore conducted its first hackathon in 2022. In this innovative learning concept 20 colleagues from seven nationalities all with different jobs and from various business units worked together to apply the Leadership Compass to find solutions for challenges that society faces.
Average training time per employee
Umicore’s employee training is above the industry average. A point that continued in 2022 with a particular focus on providing additional training courses, including offerings for newcomers, post-COVID-19 classroom and catch-up training and new management training courses.
Average training time per employee in 2022 reached 47 hours, higher than the 42 hours in 2021. In 2022, managers’ training hours (48 hours) were slightly higher than for other employees (46 hours) and women’s’ training hours (47 hours) were slightly higher than for men (46 hours).
In 2022, 96% of all employees from fully consolidated companies had an appraisal interview to discuss their development at least once during the year.
Employee engagement in an uncertain world
Our predominant goal is to engage our 11.000+ colleagues around the globe, regardless of their location, business unit or assignment. More than ever, we need to become one large #UmicoreFamily, where our colleagues feel cared for, considered, respected and safe. Our People Survey, carried out every three years, and follow this up with specific programs to future ensure that our employees are listened to, can speak up, and feel empowered and engaged. The survey provides valuable insights on how we are performing as an employer and – more importantly – how we can continue to grow and make progress. The 8th edition of the People Survey took place in 2021 with an overall participation rate of 80%, which shows a remarkable level of engagement.
This past year has been about analyzing the feedback, devising strategies for the greater engagement of our employees and implementing new initiatives. Given that results of the survey differed considerably region to region, action plans and implementation took a decentralized approach. The People Survey has sparked several initiatives globally including those mentioned below.
In the Asia-Pacific region (APAC), several common points came out of the People Survey, mostly notably improvements to process management and optimization and provision of new training courses. One concrete initiative that has so far come out of the survey outcomes is the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Established in 2022, EAP is a confidential helpline facilitated by external professionals for employees to dial in to discuss any issues, for example, stress, burnout and so on.
“Collaboration and care for each other came out as clear strengths of our organization and underline the true spirit of the #UmicoreFamily.”
Mathias Miedreich, CEO of Umicore
Collaboration and care remain key strengths
Collaboration and care for each other came out as clear strengths for Umicore and underline the true spirit of the #UmicoreFamily. Care is key to avoiding work-related injuries and reaching Zero Harm, one of the pillars of our Let’s go for Zero ambitions. However, today we are still not quite there yet although much of this past year has been dedicated to implementing a new Safety Strategy. We have also worked on rolling out our Coaching for Care program with the objective of encouraging everyone to become safety leaders and safety coaches.
Umicore as an employer of choice
In 2022, Umicore received the Top Employer certification in Belgium for the 17th consecutive year. We want Umicore to be an employer of choice in all the regions where we operate and strive to make this happen.
In 2022, our overall retention rate decreased to 93%, from 94% in 2021. In 2022 the voluntary leavers rate increased to 6.53% from 5.82% in 2021. Significant regional differences in retention rates continue, with North America reporting the highest voluntary leaver rate at 13.97%. This region’s labor market saw record low unemployment, shrinking workforce and resilient job growth. The war for talent continues in some of the other regions.
We are proud of our position as a pioneer and world leader in materials technology and sustainability, and in a disruptive industry, we need to continue innovating, challenging the status quo and growing, both as a company and as an employer.
“Wellbeing is all about vitality. Today more than ever, it is a condition for success, both as a business and as an organization. You can’t have personal, let alone collective growth without a healthy workforce.”
Bert Swennen, Group Director EHS Operations and Group Medical Officer
At Umicore, we aim to create an environment where everyone feels welcome, connected and appreciated for their contribution. A place where our people can grow, thrive, interact and take care of each other.
Ensuring everyone's Wellbeing@Work
For many years, Umicore has strived to offer a great place to work and we are committed to wellbeing as part of our values in The Umicore Way. As the intensity of jobs has increased over the years, our Zero Harm pillar of the Let’s Go for Zero ambitions continues to focus on the Wellbeing@Work program with care as a cornerstone.
Wellbeing is not only essential for the overall health of our employees, their personal performance and development; it is also crucial to the professional performance and success of the whole Umicore Group. Productivity, health and safety and the retention of our most talented people depend on a good wellbeing strategy and enables us to continue to attract young talent and create a greater sense of belonging.
Umicore’s Wellbeing@Work program centers on four areas: mental, physical, social and occupational health in the workplace, which are adapted to individual needs and regional circumstances.
Raising awareness, maintaining and improving mental wellbeing
Mental health is a growing concern and a real issue that has been further exacerbated over the past two years by the pandemic.
At Umicore, we continue to improve our knowledge and raise awareness among our leaders and employees on the importance of safeguarding mental wellbeing. To this end, quite some work was carried out in 2022. Together with Belgian consultant “Better Minds at Work”, we developed the Umicore Mental Wellbeing Model. This scientific and evidence-based model indicates which organizational aspects (e.g. autonomy in the job, feeling appreciated, your authority versus your competence, digital hygiene, etc) have an impact on mental wellbeing. The primary aim was to raise awareness among our leaders so that they can create the optimal circumstances to maintain or improve the mental wellbeing of their staff; identify early stress signals; know which steps to take to prevent burnout. To this end, a course was developed and piloted in 2022 and by the time of writing Umicore’s entire Management Board had participated in the three-hour workshop, showing just how important a topic it is for our leadership. The workshop will be further rolled out throughout 2023 and Umicore is also developing an e-learning course on the topic.
We work closely together with the various regions to ensure that the local wellbeing initiatives and actions are consistent with the group-wide approach. In 2022, we further deployed a regional network to exchange best practices, coordinate projects and seek input into the Group projects on wellbeing.
Focus on Women initiative
Focus on Women – an initiative of female managers in Belgium who want to support female leadership and create more awareness on the gender gap in business – organized two webinars in 2022 on the theme of mental wellbeing. In one session attended by about 200 participants, Prof Jan-Emmanuel De Neve shared the outcome of his long-standing research on the key drivers of employee wellbeing and its impact on company performance. In another session, academic, entrepreneur and innovator, Elke Van Hoof shared her insights on “Turning Stress into Resilience”.
Maintaining one’s physical wellbeing
Whilst individuals should take responsibility for their physical wellbeing through their own efforts and decisions, Umicore offers support and options for all our employees to improve their physical health, not because we must but because we genuinely care.
Voluntary preventive health checks were introduced for across the Umicore Group during 2022 and already73% of Umicore’s total workforce have so far been offered these checks.Local health plans have also been developed on important topics such as nutrition, weight, smoking prevention, cardiovascular risks and substance abuse. This work is supported by local campaigns on general health topics in many of Umicore’s sites:84% of Umicore’s employees worked at a site where a general health campaign was organized.
In Brazil, for example, the annual “Pink October” campaign, designed to raise awareness about preventative screening for breast cancer, was also followed up in 2022 with the "'Blue November" a campaign to highlight prostate cancer causes and prevention. During the months of both campaigns, employees received free screening.
Umicore in Brazil also organized the “Skin Cancer Screening” campaign in 2022. A dermatologist came on site for two days to offer consultations and check for possible lesions suggestive of skin cancer. In addition, there was a lecture on skin care and the importance of using sunscreen. Employees who took part in the consultations received the gift of sunscreen.
In Portugal, Reiki sessions were organized to help reduce stress and anxiety. Nutrition Talks took place in China, while in Belgium, employees could cycle or, for the first time in 2022, hike up the Mont Ventoux, the highest mountain in Provence, France.
Creating a sense of belonging
In terms of social wellbeing, collectively feeling part of a community gives energy. It is therefore imperative to strengthen this sense of belonging among colleagues, teams and with supervisors and neighbors. Our People Survey carried out in 2021 confirmed that people feel proud to be part of the #UmicoreFamily and we want to maintain this engagement through ongoing dialogue with our employees.
In 2022, we launched the hybrid way of working comprising three days in the office and two days at home. Creating a sense of belonging therefore becomes even more important across the Group. Communicating through our Connect platform and sharing stories about events and people is therefore vital to maintaining social connection and wellbeing.
Sharing a sense of support and help for the communities around us creates an even stronger link. Colleagues at our plants in Poland in Nowa Ruda and Nysa, for example, united efforts to support Ukrainian refugees entering Poland at the outbreak of war. Read more here.
Occupational wellbeing remains a top priority
Occupational wellbeing has always been a priority at Umicore. Our efforts to offer safe, healthy workplaces and eliminate occupation-related health risks continue to the maximum.
Umicore is an industry leader by setting voluntary, science-based targets for potentially hazardous exposure to metals that are more stringent than legal requirements, where these exist. All employees who may be exposed to metals and other hazardous chemicals in the workplace are included in an occupational health surveillance program. For more information see Occupational Health. Umicore also implemented a state-of-the-art industrial hygiene standard to ensure that reliable workplace sampling data form a sound basis for risk management mehttps://www.umicore.com/en/newsroom/news/mental-wellbeing/asures to be taken.
Find out more about how Umicore cares for its employees across the globe with these valuable insights and tips from Carolina Venturelli (HR Director in South America), Scott Mitchell (Plant Manager at the AC site in Burlington, Canada) and Veerle Frederickx (company medical doctor in Belgium).
Number of LTAs
Umicore is committed to ensuring the highest level of safety in all its facilities. This commitment is embedded in the 2030 RISE Strategy and further strengthened in the Let’s Go for Zero ambition to achieve zero work-related injuries.
The safety of our people is a core value
Despite this commitment, lost time accidents (LTAs) remained a challenge in 2022. Although 80% of the reporting sites recorded no LTAs, Umicore still recorded 96 LTAs in 2022 compared with 73 in 2021, resulting in 3,210 lost calender days. Of the total number of staff LTAs, 86 occurred in Europe and of these, 73 occurred on Belgian sites. In 2022, 21 contractor LTAs were recorded compared with 20 in 2021.
There were also 21 lost time accidents with contractors compared with 20 in 2021.
Given these results we recognize the need to take a new approach in addressing the safety of our people, which is why in 2022 we took the following steps:
- We appointed a new Group Safety Director.
- We adopted a new approach to safeguarding all those who come to work for us and unveiled a new Safety Strategy in the autumn of 2022. (see Towards a caring safety culture – 2023-2025 below).
- We started using a new performance metric – The Total Recordable Injury Rate (TRIR) – which provides a more complete picture of both successes and challenges in safety (see below).
Now with these new steps in place, together with our newly unveiled Safety Strategy we are aiming higher for 2023 and beyond.
Towards a caring safety culture – 2023-2025
In June 2022, our newly appointed Group Safety Director set about auditing the overall processes and safety standards within our organization.
In autumn 2022, the new Safety Strategy was unveiled, with the emphasis on building a caring safety culture. The new approach sets out our three safety priorities for the next two years, which will be vital to accelerating improvements in safety across the whole Umicore Group, and allowing us to embark on the journey to 2030.
These priorities are fully aligned with the 2030 RISE Strategy and more specifically our commitment towards Zero Harm under our Let’s Go for Zero ambitions.
Zero fatalities and serious incidents
We will prevent fatalities and serious incidents by ensuring full compliance with life-saving programs such as the management of high-hazard tasks (e.g. work at height, confined space, hot work, critical lifting) ensuring they are properly and consistently managed across all sites to prevent the occurrence of serious incidents and fatalities.
We commit to further improving the process safety standards and management that are core to preventing catastrophic process events.
We will also put in place a thorough and effective contractor management system to manage contractors and their activities, from selection through execution and evaluation of their work. This will allow us to assess their adherence to safety standards.
Caring safety culture
We will develop a true caring safety culture and make safety top of mind for all our people through visible and felt leadership on the shop floor, engaging in better and more frequent safety conversations.
Observation and feedback programs, consistent throughout the organization, will be vital to drive broad engagement in safety observations, as well as feedback for leaders and peers at the operational level.
Proactively communicating about our safety vision, strategy, focus areas and new initiatives to enhance the organization’s understanding of why we’re doing it will be crucial in helping us to create a true caring safety culture.
Prepare for growth
The 2030 RISE Strategy envisages significant scaling up over the next decade. In our growth plans we will embed safety structurally from project conception to full operation, providing robust processes and a safe work environment for all.
“During our first Catalysis Safety Day, many best practices were shared providing inspiration to our site safety representatives to continue to improve local safety systems and to strengthen our safety culture.”
We will make the necessary changes to existing installations and incorporating safety design for all new facilities. We will carry out consistent incident analysis and review, drawing on and sharing the lessons learned to prevent reoccurrence.
Safety culture and behavior begin even before newcomers start working. That’s why we will ensure that all new employees receive an effective Hire & Onboarding for Safety program with consistent selection, induction and on-the-job training for all new hires.
These three key priorities will be backed up by sound data and performance management, a tried and tested compliance assurance program, and the learning culture that already exists within our organization.
Work has already begun on implementing this new approach and will continue in the following years.
First Catalysis Safety Day a huge success
To promote a caring safety culture and stimulate colleagues to look after each other and the contractors working with them, the Catalysis Business Group started to organize quarterly Catalysis Safety Days, which bring all site safety representatives together to participate in interactive discussions on safety topics, share thoughts and best practices, learn from incidents as well as exchange and review the three-year site safety plans. The first Catalysis Safety Day took place on 11 March 2022 on the topic of "contractor management". The North & South American Catalysis sites presented their site safety programs. Many excellent best practices were shared providing inspiration to our site safety representatives to continue to improve local safety systems and strengthen our safety culture.
These Safety Days will continue to be organized throughout 2023.
Umicore Olen #wellontrack campaign
As part of the caring safety culture, Umicore Olen launched its #wellontrack campaign in the autumn of 2022, The campaign has so far consisted of 18 workshops to raise awareness about the basic strategies to cycle and arrive safely at work. Whether on the road or at work, every decision can have a huge impact on one’s own safety as well as that of family and colleagues. With 800 employees joining the workshops, the campaign was a huge success.
Measuring safety performance in the broader sense
In 2022, Umicore introduced a new metric to measure safety performance. The Total Recordable Injury Rate (TRIR) encompasses not only lost-time accidents, but also cases resulting in adapted work and simple medical treatments (e.g. requiring no restricted work or days lost), of both staff and contractors working on our premises. This new metric is in line with best industry practice and provides greater visibility and understanding of our safety performance.
Last year, we estimated our past safety performance against this new criterion to establish a TRIR baseline rate of 9.9 and set the 10% reduction for 2022, compared with 2021. Last year was also the first year in which we were able to collect real and reliable data using this new metric. We have so far met the 9.0 target in 2022 and we are aiming for continuous improvement throughout 2023.
Among the recordable incidents, 80% are related to common workplace hazards such as bumps, strikes, hits, trips and cuts. Burns and acute exposures, which are always our main focus, account for less than 15%. And most importantly, there were zero fatalities or permanent disabilities in 2022.
Over 100,000 observations and 10,000 safety walks were recorded globally in 2022, which demonstrates the high level of commitment of our leadership and staff in identifying and addressing hazardous situations. In order to accelerate the improvement in our performance, we will increase our focus on safety walks and behavior observation in 2023.
With the knowledge provided by TRIR and the solid steps we have taken in 2022, we can now set effective plans and implement new initiatives to reduce the injury rate and move closer to our ambition of Zero Harm.
Solid steps in 2022
Several changes were implemented over the last six months of 2022, aimed at creating a more prominent caring safety culture with a focus on growing a coaching mindset and reducing the level of risk tolerance.
Improvements to Umicore’s process safety management were top priority during this past year. Our integrity in design; technology; and operations depend on it. The existing process safety management system, established in 2015, was assessed, an inventory and prioritization of processes were drawn up, and timelines were set.
Process hazard assessment (PHA) and process risk analysis (PRA) continued to be carried out in 2022, with 98% of all high-priority processes completed. The implementation of risk reduction measures (RRM) already brought 76% of all process installations to a low risk level, and we will continue to implement additional risk reduction measures in 2023.
The same priority has been given to new process installations with PRAs, which are now carried out during the design stage so that risk reduction measures are already included in the design.
In 2022, Umicore also continued to pursue its internal HAZOP Leader Training program to expand knowledge and understanding about process risks throughout the organization. By the end of the year, 75 employees from 13 different sites were trained in the program of online and classroom courses. In 2022, we also started a new in-depth safety audit process, with 11 Process Safety Auditors trained and three sites audited.
A new incident management standard was published in September 2022 to improve the identification, classification, communication and investigation of incidents. Consistency in reporting and sharing learnings from incidents are key enablers of safety performance. Such reporting allows common causes to be identified and addressed systemically, while providing solid information to support business decisions.
Coaching for Safety training
Umicore’s commitment to safety is unwavering. Tackling cultural change in terms of safety is the only right path to creating a safe work environment. Throughout 2022, Umicore started the full roll-out of its ‘“Coaching for Safety” program as a mandatory leadership program for all sites. The aims of the program were clear:
- Develop a caring safety and wellbeing culture throughout the whole organization.
- Develop, embed and sustain coaching mindsets and behaviors among our leaders.
- Enable leaders to lead the cultural change and support teams in reaching a high performing level of “interdependence”.
- Support the global adoption of a common Umicore language around safety/wellbeing.
- Strengthen local safety leadership programs and initiatives.
By the end of 2022, 91 leaders had already been trained.
Further roll out of the Coaching for Safety program has been set for 2023, with a plan to have all leaders trained in within two years. Priority will be given to managers at operational sites.
Solid progress prepares the ground towards 2030
The safety of our people is, and will always be, a core value at Umicore. Much progress has been made in 2022 but going forwards we need to continue to learn and accelerate improvements to our safety practices across the whole Umicore Group, preparing us for the journey towards 2030.
During the final preparation of this report, an accident took place at the Hoboken site in Belgium, which resulted in serious injuries to a contractor. Unfortunately, the injured person succumbed to the injuries, passing away on March 23rd. Together with the contracting company, the investigation into the cause of the accident is currently ongoing so that we can fully understand what happened and do everything possible to avoid this occurring in the future. Any satisfaction that Umicore might have derived from progress made in implementing our safety projects has been completely overshadowed by this tragic event.
Umicore makes continuous efforts to eliminate occupational-related health effects and to promote wellbeing in the workplace. The main occupational health risks are related to exposure to hazardous chemical 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 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 surveillance program. As part of our 2030 RISE Strategy, the Let’s Go for Zero ambition for occupational exposure is to reduce to zero the number of individual readings that indicate exposure for an employee that is higher than the internal target levels. While these excess readings do not necessarily indicate an immediate 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. We aim to remain within the biomarkers of exposure for the following metals and target values:
- Arsenic: 30 micrograms per gram of creatinine in urine
- Cadmium: 2 micrograms per gram of creatinine in urine
- Cobalt: 15 micrograms per gram of creatinine
- Indium: 1 microgram per liter of plasma
- Lead: 25 micrograms per 100 milligrams of blood
- Nickel: 30 micrograms per gram of creatinine in urine
- Platinum salts: no new cases of platinum salt sensitization
In 2022, a total of 7,820 biological samples were collected from employees with occupational exposure to at least one of the metals mentioned above (platinum salts excluded). 84 readings showed a result in excess of the internal target value, bringing the total excess rate to 1.1%, down from 1.5%1 in 2021. All occupationally exposed employees are regularly monitored by an occupational health physician in line with regulatory requirements and Umicore’s occupational health guidance.
Occupational exposure to arsenic is possible in the Business Groups Energy & Surface Technologies and Recycling. In total, eight employees or 0.8% of the 1,019 occupationally exposed workers had an excess reading during 2022, down from an excess rate of 1.3% in 2021.
Occupational exposure to cadmium represents a potential health risk in the Business Groups Energy & Surface Technologies and Recycling. Cadmium in urine is an excellent biomarker for lifetime exposure. In 2022, a total of 460 employees had an occupational exposure to cadmium. Only two employees recorded a cadmium in urine reading in excess of the target value. This resulted in an excess rate of 0.4% compared with 0.2% in 2021 (one employee with an excess reading).
In total, 2,015 employees are occupationally exposed to cobalt, mainly in the Business Group Energy & Surface Technologies. The number of employees exceeding the target value was further reduced to 26, resulting in an excess rate of 1.3%, down from 2.2% in 2021. In the Business Unit Rechargeable Battery Materials, we noted an excess rate of 0.2% in 2022, down from 0.9% in 2021. The excess readings in the Business Unit Cobalt & Specialty Materials were at 8.4%, compared with 10.6% in 2021. The sites in Cheonan (Korea, Rechargeable Battery Materials), Jiangmen (China, Rechargeable Battery Materials), Olen (Belgium, Rechargeable Battery Materials) and Kokkola (Finland, Rechargeable Battery Materials) further improved their comprehensive ‘zero dust’ management plan.
This ‘zero dust’ program focuses on equipment improvements and workers’ behavior. Concrete actions include technical improvements; awareness programs; regular industrial hygiene campaigns; excellent housekeeping; improved maintenance of critical equipment; and compliance with the personal protective equipment procedures. Experiences and best practices from one site are shared with the other sites. The site in Nysa (Poland, Rechargeable Battery Materials) will start up its exposure monitoring program in 2023. The Business Unit Cobalt & Specialty Materials intensified its dust reduction program with the focus on technical source control improvements, encapsulation of equipment, enhanced ventilation systems and strict application of personal protective equipment procedures including respiratory mask fit testing for each exposed employee. While in 2022 good progress was made in exposure at the sites in Olen (Belgium, Energy & Surface Technologies), Fort Saskatchewan (Canada, Energy & Surface Technologies) and Grenoble (France, Energy & Surface Technologies), these sites report the higher excess rates. Improvement programs at these sites are managed through specific projects with clear targets and deadlines.
For workers exposed to cobalt, both Business Units Cobalt & Specialty Materials and Rechargeable Battery Materials have implemented Umicore’s occupational health guidance for cobalt, including biological monitoring and medical surveillance.
The Business Group Energy & Surface Technologies has exposure to indium. Indium in plasma is an excellent biomarker for lifetime exposure. In 2022, the biological monitoring program as well as the annual occupational health surveillance check at the site in Balzers (Liechtenstein, Energy & Surface Technologies) had again to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The checks are now scheduled for 2023. The site in Hsinchu Hsien reported two excess readings resulting in an excess rate of 0.4% compared with 1.6% in 2020 (note that in 2021, no biological monitoring could be performed due to COVID-19 restrictions).
Occupational lead exposure represents a potential health risk, mainly in the Business Group Recycling. In 2022, Umicore’s internal target value for lead is 25 micrograms (µg)/deciliter (dl) in blood. In total, 1.6% of the 1,404 occupationally exposed employees exceeded the target value of 25μg/100 milligrams (ml) slightly up from 1.4% in 2021. The increase in excess readings is the result of an intensified monitoring program among exposed employees. The Hoboken site (Belgium, Recycling) continues to implement improved engineering controls, while ensuring timely training for newly hired staff. Strict attention is paid to personal protective equipment compliance and mask fit testing.
The Business Groups Energy & Surface Technologies and Recycling have occupational exposure to nickel. In 2022, a total of 2,406 employees were exposed to nickel. In 2022, 24 of the exposed workers exceeded the target level resulting in an excess level of 1.0% compared with 1.2% in 2021. The Business Unit Rechargeable Battery Materials maintained its excellent performance with an excess rate of 0.6% comparable with 0.5% in 2021. A targeted program focusing on technical improvements, raising awareness and training programs as well as improved personal protective equipment compliance contributed to this result. The site in Subic (Philippines, Energy & Surface Technologies) reported a decreased excess rate of 13.8% compared with 20.2% in 2021. The site has implemented several engineering projects among others in the packaging line along with improved housekeeping and an intensified personal protective equipment procedure.
The Business Groups Catalysis and Recycling have workplaces with exposure to platinum salts. In 2022, for the second year in a row, there were no newly diagnosed cases of platinum salt sensitization. All the sites with relevant platinum salt exposure implemented a workplace sampling program following an updated Umicore industrial hygiene standard.
OTHER OCCUPATIONAL RELATED DISEASES
The number of occupational diseases is the number of employees with a newly diagnosed occupational disease or occupationally linked symptoms during the reporting year.
In 2022, two employees developed a musculoskeletal disorder due to their occupation. An occupational health physician is following up on both people concerned. Five people developed contact dermatitis in the precious metal refinery at the site in Hoboken (Recycling, Belgium). Technical measures are being taken along with a strict housekeeping program. One case of industrial noise-related hearing loss was reported at the site in Glens Falls (Recycling, United States).
Over the past years, Umicore has been confronted with several burn-out cases that led to long-term sickness with impact on both the individual and the organization. Following Umicore’s Zero Harm in the Let’s Go for Zero ambitions, many regional and site initiatives are taken to address this issue. At Group level, training focused on organizational aspects that could maintain and improve the mental wellbeing of teams and individuals has been developed and is being deployed throughout the organization. An e-learning on mental wellbeing is also in development.
Social key figures
|Workforce (fully consolidated companies)||N°||S2||10,420||11,152||10,859||11,050||11,565|
|Temporary contracts||% of workforce||S2||3.13||3.31||3.19||3.51||3.02|
|Women amongst all employees||% of workforce||S2||21.30||20.88||21.68||22.48||23.45|
|Women amongst all managers||% of workforce||S2||22.98||23.13||23.06||25||26.11|
|Women amongst senior management||% of workforce||S2||9.70||10.96||10.74||12.42||13.69|
|Non-European representation in senior management functions||%||S2||17.91||18.49||20.13||21.57||20.83|
|Average training hours per employee||hours/employee||S3||43.10||48.73||36.33||41.59||46.60|
|Employees having a yearly appraisal||% of workforce||S3||96.15||94.00||93.42||94.14||96.01|
|Voluntary leavers - ratio||% of workforce||S3||7.18||5.99||4.20||5.82||6.53|
|Employees represented by union or Collective Labour Agreement (CLA)||% of workforce||S4||64.49||65.60||66.38||66.94||65.79|
|Exposure ratio 'all biomarkers aggregated'1||%||S7||2.8||1.8||2.0||1.5||1.1|
|Number of occupational linked diseases||N°||S7||12||18||6||10||8|
|People with platinum sensitisation||N°||S7||3||1||1||0||0|
|Lost Time Accidents (LTA)||N°||S8||61||90||49||73||96|
|Lost Time Accidents (LTA) for sub-contractors||N°||S8||21||25||17||20||21|
|LTA frequency rate||LTA/million hours worked||S8||3.4||4.6||2.5||3.7||4.87|
|LTA severity rate||lost days/thousand hours worked||S8||0.1||0.2||0.5||0.1||0.16|