Our focus is to inspire the next generation of talent by supporting science, engineering, technology and maths (`STEM´) education, alongside our commitment to employees and to the communities where we operate, both in the UK and globally. We continue to make good progress in this area, whilst remaining practical in some of our longer-term objectives.
Diversity in the workplace and community volunteering remain key priorities for Victrex, with a target to deliver 10,000 hours of volunteering by employees in our local communities over the medium term.
To find out more, see our Sustainability section of the Annual Report.
Employees (as at year end)
Average number of people employed during the year
Regional breakdown of employees
The breadth and depth of talent across our workforce at all locations continues to be important to Victrex, particularly as we move further downstream towards selected semi-finished products, ensuring we have the capabilities both at a manufacturing level, and across our business. In an increasingly competitive global market, ensuring that we attract, engage, develop and retain our people remains a consistent theme for Victrex. Each year we run an organisational capability review following our annual strategic review. This supports us to identify and develop the capabilities and experience we need to deliver our business strategy. This is led by the Chief Executive Officer, supported by the Group Human Resources Director and the Executive Directors of each business unit.
Diversity is something we actively support. Approximately 79% of our employees are male (as at 30 September 2017) and 21% are female (as at 30 September 2017). On our Executive Leadership Team during 2017, one quarter of the team was female. In Victrex, diversity encompasses differences in ethnicity, gender, language, age, sexual orientation, religion, socio-economic status, physical and mental ability, thinking style, experience and education. We believe that the wide array of perspectives that result from such diversity promotes innovation and business success. We operate a global diversity and equal opportunities policy which is reviewed each year and provides the framework for productive working relationships within the organisation. With the acquisition of Zyex completed this year, we have extended our diversity agenda to our new employees, and will continue to do so for similar acquisitions or joint ventures in the years ahead.
Our voluntary employee turnover was lower this year at 3%, which is better than other similar sized global manufacturing companies.
Investment in the development of all our employees remains a key priority, through both an informal and formal route. Assessment of individual training needs is a key element of the annual appraisal process which is undertaken by all employees. This year has seen us introduce a learning and performance portal which allows us to manage our development programmes consistently and give greater availability and visibility to all of our programmes globally.
This is our 11th year of recruiting apprentices, and we have recruited 31 apprentices to date across a number of functions, principally in operations. The first apprentices we recruited were recently awarded their 10 year long service award, a strong testament to the attraction of Victrex as a sustainable and developing global business. This year we became part of the Apprenticeship Levy in the UK and are looking at different ways that we can use our contributions from increasing the number of apprenticeships to using them to develop existing employees.
Our priorities for the health and wellbeing of employees are unwavering. Occupational health and private medical services are available for all employees in all locations. Our focus on wellbeing services includes on-site medical checks, provision of financial education sessions and driver safety for company car owners and frequent travellers. This year we have introduced a new behavioural approach to driver safety and training for traveller safety.
Our well established recognition programme ranges from instant and functional awards through to our annual CEO Awards, which have become the showcase of the year, with an increased number of categories to reflect the global talent across our business.
The Group places considerable emphasis on two-way communication and involving our employees in the business. We have a number of channels, both formal and informal, to keep employees informed on business news. These include quarterly global staff briefings involving all of our global employees and, more formally, UK and global regional employee forums and union partnership meetings. Our newer employees at our Kleiss (Grantsburg) and Zyex (Stonehouse) locations are also becoming involved. This year we also introduced a Works Council in Germany following discussion with employees at our Hofheim offices. The purpose of the forums is to promote positive two-way communication, proactive involvement and problem solving. We have over 50 employees involved across all countries, functions and levels.
The Company supports employee share ownership and offers the opportunity to participate in share schemes. As at 30 September 2017, approximately 88% (2016: 91%) of employees worldwide were participants in employee share schemes, principally as option holders under the Company’s employee share option schemes.
We also sponsor pension plans for employees across most of our global operations. Details of the Group’s principal pension schemes are set out in note 15 to the financial statements.
Supporting local communities and participating in regional and national events which inspire the next generation of employees is a big focus for Victrex. Our main focus is to get young people interested and excited about science, technology and engineering. This year our employees participated in activities in local schools and colleges, spending over 600 hours supporting the next generation. Since we started formally measuring our activities, we have committed over 1,700 hours to the community since 2015.
We continue to partner with Catalyst Discovery Centre in the UK – which teaches school-age children about chemistry and how polymers are made, in an interactive way – and are actively involved in the Science Industry Partnership (‘SIP’).
Working with other manufacturers in the UK is also important for Victrex. The Springfields Award saw one of our engineering apprentices – Dan Larsen – scoop the Endeavour Award this year, as well as being runner-up in the main award.
Victrex has also participated in a range of activities within local communities, offering apprenticeships, promoting awareness in schools and advancement of research work at universities and providing work experience to students of all ages at varying stages of their academic careers.
As a business we continue to
- provide a clean, safe working environment which meets all legislative requirements and all the necessary training and support for employees to operate safely within it;
- provide appropriate remuneration for work carried out and equal opportunities for development and career advancement;
- be intolerant of any unacceptable working practices such as any form of discrimination, bullying or harassment;
- prohibit illegal activities on our sites; and
- promote fair, ethical and transparent business practices both within our business and in dealings with external stakeholders.