In the last decades, small national companies have grown in amazing scale all around the world. Companies that once were family owned have become huge multinational corporations. Corporations, which by the side of globalization, have expanded all around the world. International business has become one of the most important areas of business due to the need for companies to expand to markets outside their borders. Companies have had the need to adapt to another cultures and business systems. At the same time the way human resource management works has changed. Multinational corporations have had to adapt to new human resource requirements in order to be more effective and efficient. The business melting pot that surged in the last decades has forced corporations to develop a diverse workforce with the ability to expand their businesses.
Solvay is one of the companies that was able to exploit globalization as it best. This company has successfully expand itself all around the world and has become one of the biggest multinational companies
in the world due to its effective business and H.R. management performance.
The story of Solvay starts in 1861, in Belgium. During this year the Ernest brothers started working on a new revolutionary ammonia-soda process for the production of sodium carbonate. Later on in 1863 the Solvay Group was founded. During the first years they had constant economic problems. Because of the problems that they had trying to developed and perfect the production process of their products, their performance during the first ten years was not successful. The first ten years they went on bankruptcy several times. However soon everything changes for the company. After 1870 Solvay started focusing on global expansion. Soon, factories were opened in Belgium, France, England, Germany, Russia and the United States. (Solvay s.a.)
Nowadays Solvay is a global group of pharmaceutical and chemical companies specialized in different sectors. It has around 400 entities in 50 different countries, and it provides jobs for 32,000 people from different countries of the world.
(solvay s.a.)Headcount By SectorPersons employed as of 1/1/2000
The most important sector of Solvay is probably the Chemical sector. Solvay is the world’s leading producer of soda ash, hydrogen peroxide, detergent and barium-strontium, and one of the leading manufacturers of chore chemicals, salt, and fluorinated products(solvay s.a.). Chemical sales in the last year reached US$2,405 millions, and was distributed in:
The plastic sector is also a really important one. Solvay’s plastic market is spread in the five continents. Solvays companies are leading the world in the manufacture of high-density polyethylene (HDPE), and are also in the top division for polyvinyl chloride(PCV, and produce both polypropylene (PP) and many specialty polymers(solvay s.a.). Plastic sales in the year 2000 reached US$ 2,792 millions, and it was origined from:
-High density polyethylene: 43%
-Special polymers and technical compounds: 13%
Another sector of Solvay is the processing from plastic to finished products. The Solvay group is nowadays one of the leading companies in plastic processing in the world. Solvay’s plastic processing sector is mainly divided in the production of automotive parts, industrial foils, pipes and fittings and decoration. Solvay’s plastic processing 2000 sales rached US$ 1,769 millions. (Solvay finance)
And last but not least is the pharmaceutical sector. Solvay is one of the top 40 pharmaceutical companies in the world. The pharmaceutical sector is also one of the most promising ones for the company, due to its rapid development. Solvay’s pharmaceutical research and production is concentrated in the development in the fields of psychiatry, gastroenterology, gynecology and cardiology (solvay finance)
The total sales in the year 2000 reached US$ 8,247 million. Sales where geographically divided in :
Solvay is the biggest company in its country of origin, Belgium. The country’s culture has definitely helped in the success of the company. Belgium is located in Western Europe. Surrounded by Germany, France, Luxemburg and The Netherlands, and being a really small country, Belgium has always being in constant cultural exchange with other countries. Belgium has always been a pretty prosper country, really open and understanding to other cultures. And because of its relatively small size has always been forced to engage in business relations with its neighboring countries.
Belgium’s history has made it one of the less nationalistic countries in the world, and in a way that has helped to prepared itself for the globalize world of today. This small country it’s nowadays known for having one of the world’s highest quality of life (education, infrastructure, health care, etc.) and it also has the world’s records in high productivity and low poverty. Belgium has always been one of the richest and most developed regions of the world. And this has made it a key country in Europe. Being one of the founders, and the capital of the European Union, Belgium is nowadays an economic center of the world (The Wilson Quarterly 93).
Belgium’s culture has obviously being of great importance for the development of a company like Solvay. Belgium’s understanding and respect of other countries and their cultures has helped Solvay to expand itself with less cultural-shock difficulties. The country’s culture has helped Solvay expand their business to markets all over the world. And most of all, it has helped Solvay to manage efficiently a diverse work force all over the world.
For a company like Solvay, Human resource Management has been a key factor in its global expansion. Solvay, just like many other multinational companies, has made of great importance to be able to get the best out of their workforce and to hire the most competitive personnel in the field. The diversity of its work force is one of the key factors for the company’s successes. Solvay has always made a priority to draw the best people from everywhere in the world and combine their cultural knowledge to strength the company. “Solvay’s international dimension is consolidated by the many managers of many nationalities on its staff. This international blend of cultures and skills is one of the Group’s greatest assets” (Solvay s.a. H.R. development)
The importance of having a diverse workforce in a multinational company is increasing everyday. “A diverse workforce is one that can be characterized as a multicultural group working as one, combining their merits and capabilities” (Jamieson 6). An example of another company with a diverse work force is the U.S. base company Microsoft. Microsoft Corporation is another company that like Solvay has an efficient H.R management system, combining a large number of Americans and Asians. The principle and most important reason for having a diverse workforce is to guarantee that the company gets the best employees globally available no matter culture, race, gender or religion. And that is exactly what Solvay knows and does.
For Solvay, developing, training, and maintaining a diverse workforce is the most important aspect of Human Resource Management. The first step in maintaining a diverse force work for Solvay is recruiting. Companies are constantly competing in order to acquire the best candidates to work for them. In previous decades companies used to recruit their work force only from people that lived close to the company, or at least in the same country. However nowadays there are not geographic limits when it comes to recruitment. That is why selected skilled individuals are the ones that every company wants working for them. Solvay considers of great importance to track down those individuals, and offer them good job opportunities that would attract them.
Another important step for maintaining a skillful workforce in Solvay is the constant training of their employees. Solvay keeps training their employees in different factors(Solvay people). Obviously Solvay trains their work force to prepare them as good as possible for their specific work field. Besides Solvay also prepares their employees in other issues such as social issues, cultural issues, and sensitivity issues. Solvay is really concern about education their workforce about global relations. Globalization has made really important for a company the understanding of different cultures, the eradication of superficial stereotypes and the efficient communication of people from different cultures without being culturally insensitive(solvay people). Solvay also considers of great importance the bahabior that its employees have outside work. Solvay has several ethic codes that require its workforce to follow in order to be a good citizen in society, and specially a good member of its family. (Solvay people)
After recruiting and training its workforce, it is really important for Solvay to keep the employees motivated so they do not feel tempted to leave the company. Because of the high recruiting competition between companies, high skilled employees are constantly been offered for jobs from other companies. It is really important for Solvay to guarantee that their work force is excited and motivated of working in the company. That is why Solvay tries to give his employees a faired direct, indirect and intrinsic compensation for their work at Solvay.
Solvay’s success is in every area is a result of its focus in long-term results. The company has a concern about the image of the company. It is also concern about the image that its workforce reflects about the company in society. Solvay is concern about the environment, and it is concern about the prosperity of Belgium and the other countries where their factories are based. Solvay is a company that understands business and that has everything a company needs to achieve global dominance in its field of work. Belgium’s stability and prosperity gives Solvay a perfect environment and conditions (cultural and political) to continue its global expansion. The company’s approach to new markets, the strategies planned for the future and its highly skilled diverse workforce put Solvay in a privilege position for its global development.
-All Internet source from yahoo education directory.http://dir.yahoo.com/Society_and_Culture.
-All Internet source from yahoo education directory.http://www.altavista.com.
-Jamieson, David and Julie O’Mara. Managing Workforce 2000: Gaining the Diversity Advantage. Jossey. Bass publishers.1991.
-Solvay Investors. “Increasing competiviness”. http://www.solvay-finance.com/a_report98_human.htm
-Solvay people. International pharmaceutical and chemicalgroup.http://www.solvay.com/people/announce/job0002908b.
-The Wilson Quarterly. “In the Belgium chateau: the spirit and culture of an European society in an age of change”. 1995.