Innovation and Employees

As a specialty chemicals company, innovations are an important factor for ALTANA, enabling us to offer our customers new, competitive solutions and at the same time to meet cutting-edge requirements regarding performance profile, costs, environmental protection, and sustainability. Thanks to close cooperation with our customers we are integrated into new fields of development at an early stage and thus can develop customized solutions quickly and reliably. We build on existing competencies, on the one hand, and gain access to new ones on the other, in order to continuously adapt our product portfolio to market and customer needs. State-of-the-art analytics in chemical labs as well as application technology testing laboratories geared to specific features are available to our researchers and developers for targeted development. 

In addition to the development activities in the business divisions, selected innovations are initiated and coordinated at the ALTANA level, aimed at tapping new business fields and absorbing technology and market trends. This is achieved through different procedures, namely, through the ALTANA Institute, the central management of technology platforms, as well as corporate venturing investments. 

With the help of the ALTANA Institute, external networks and close cooperation with universities and research institutes around the world are used to harness outside impetus. Through the use of a successful open-innovation approach coupled with the use of synergies by our divisions, ALTANA manages to create long-term and partially transformative innovations and to develop solutions.

Within the framework of technology platforms, based on the work of past years ALTANA advanced digital printing processes and the printing inks and materials needed for printed electronics. Additionally, initiatives in the field of 3D printing were bolstered, ventures whose success opens up further possibilities in additive manufacturing. In 2018, ALTANA also expanded its competencies in the field of new innovative coating technologies, including laser transfer printing technology. 

Due to the close cooperation with the central department Corporate Venturing, technology and market potential are continually examined, and through targeted investments in transformative technology entry into new attractive markets developed. In this context, ALTANA acquired a stake in the Israeli industrial digital printing company Velox Ltd. in 2018, thus expanding its technology and investment portfolio in this area. 

The basis of our innovative strength is an open and dynamic corporate culture that gives the 1,128 employees in our research and development centers around the world the freedom to act creatively and entrepreneurially. The equipment in our development centers enables our employees to implement their ideas in marketable solutions. In the year under review, expenses for research and development amounted to € 154.1 million (previous year: € 142.5 million). The fact that the share of research and development expenses in sales was higher once again, at 6.7 % (previous year: 6.3 %), is yet another expression of our innovative focus.

In the course of 2018, the number of people employed by the ALTANA Group climbed by 242, or 4 %, to 6,428 (previous year: 6,186). The increase is primarily attributable to investments in our strategic growth fields and the expansion of our business activities. Business combinations played no role in the development of our staff numbers in 2018, while in 2017 111 employees were added due to acquisitions. The divisions within the Group exhibited different growth rates in 2018.

In the BYK division, the number of employees rose by 124 to 2,324 (previous year: 2,200). The companies in Germany, China, and the U.S. accounted for the most significant share of the increase, against the backdrop of the strategic expansion of business activities in the additives segment and in the testing and measuring instruments business in Germany.

The number of employees in the ECKART division remained virtually constant at 1,718 people (previous year: 1,716). But the development within the division was uneven. While a slight decrease was recorded at the division’s American sites, the headcount at its Swiss, German, and Chinese sites increased slightly due to the expansion of business activities. 

In the course of 2018, the workforce of the ELANTAS division increased by 26 to a total of 1,087 people (previous year: 1,061). The division’s companies in Italy, China, and Germany accounted for the main share of the increase. Meanwhile, staff numbers in the U.S. decreased. 

ACTEGA’s headcount rose by 57 to 1,151 employees (previous year: 1,094). The main reason was the expansion of business activities in the course of the year by the division’s sites in Germany. The number of employees also increased in the U.S. 

Staff numbers of the Group holding companies climbed by 33 to 148 in the past fiscal year (previous year: 115), recording the highest-percentage increase. This is mainly due to the implementation of a service company at the holding level, in which mainly IT employees in the BYK and ECKART divisions have been brought together so far in one service unit.

The functional structure of the workforce did not alter significantly in the 2018 fiscal year. The number of staff rose in all four functional areas. With 52 %, the same percentage as in the previous year, or 3,373 people (previous year: 3,198), most of the employees continued to work in production. And this area accounted for the highest-percentage increase in 2018. Last year, the number of people employed in research and development rose by 26 to 1,128 (previous year: 1,102).

The headcount in marketing and sales, as well as administration, also increased in the course of 2018, by a total of 41 people. As in the previous years, administrative functions continued to comprise the smallest share of the Group’s workforce, with 925 people working in this area (previous year: 889).

In 2018, all of the regions exhibited an increase in staff numbers. In terms of the regional structure, there were no major shifts in 2018 in comparison with 2017. The European companies continued to employ by far the largest number of people, with a headcount of 4,088 (previous year: 3,927). At the end of the year, 3,320 people worked in Germany (previous year: 3,196), the majority of them at ECKART’s and BYK’s production and development sites, in Hartenstein and Wesel, respectively. Staff numbers in the Americas increased slightly by 31, from 1,477 employees in the previous year to 1,508 at the end of 2018. The headcount in the Asian Group companies grew from 782 in the previous year to 832, increasing by the highest percentage.

At the end of the 2018 fiscal year, 1,692 women and 4,736 men worked for ALTANA. On the balance-sheet date, 92 % of all employees had an unlimited employment contract and 8 % a limited employment contract. This ratio was the same for both genders. Of the women employees, 78 % worked full-time and 22 % part-time at the end of 2018. 98 % of the male employees worked full-time. Apart from its own employees, 161 people from employment agencies worked for the ALTANA Group on December 31, 2018. 

ALTANA competes internationally for specialists and managers. Like all companies in the chemical industry, in the years to come the ALTANA Group, particularly in Europe, will enter a phase that due to the demographic development makes precision succession planning indispensable already today. As a result, talent management and human-resource development play a key role in ALTANA’s agenda for the future (Keep Changing Agenda). The main aim is to mobilize people at ALTANA, to increase diversity at all levels, to further develop leadership culture, and in doing so to strengthen entrepreneurial thinking. To achieve these goals, we reworked ALTANA’s competence model in 2018. Existing human-resource instruments were evaluated with the aim of optimizing personnel selection and the basis for human-resource decisions, and to promote lasting employee loyalty to the company. As a result, succession planning, in particular, will bear fruit in the future. 

The “HR Transformation” project, which was launched in 2017 and whose aim is to reposition ALTANA’s strategic positioning of personnel activities, was pushed forward in 2018. Initially, a comprehensive evaluation of personnel-related services and processes was made on a global level. These activities will continue in the coming years. The project’s aim of redefining the worldwide organization of ALTANA’s human-resource department, will be supported by the implementation of a global IT system. With the help of this IT system, a platform for far-reaching digitalization in the environment of human-resource management is to be created. The main aim is to continuously further expand strategic human-resources work in order to meet the future needs of the ALTANA organization, which is steadily expanding due to organic and acquisition-related growth. The basis of all of these activities continues to be ALTANA’s business principles as well as the company’s defined and transparently communicated values, which determine the orientation of our action and employee management.

Declaration of Corporate Governance Pursuant to Section 289 f (4) of the German Commercial Code (HGB)
Promoting women in management positions remained a focus in the 2018 fiscal year. By intensifying measures that had been introduced in the past, and with new instruments, we further anchored the expansion of diversity in our human-resource management. One focus was promoting women. The ratio of women in ALTANA’s national and international management development programs has increased significantly in recent years. In addition, our further education program includes special offers for women. The mentoring program for women launched in 2016 was continued in 2018. Furthermore, various informal platforms were created to intensify dialog on this issue. Among them are regular meetings of women in management positions that focus on strengthening the network, and workshops for further development of family-friendly employment models intended to contribute to continual improvement of the general working conditions at ALTANA.

ALTANA’s medium- to long-term goal is to increase the share of women in management positions to the percentage of women in the entire workforce. 

In keeping with legal requirements regarding equal participation of women in management positions in private business and the public service sector, ALTANA AG’s Supervisory Board specified targets for the share of women in the company’s Management and Supervisory Boards. For the Supervisory Board, a target of
25 % was resolved by the end of the target-achievement period on June 30, 2020. For the Management Board, no personnel changes or an extension of the body are planned by the end of the target-achievement period, and so the body will continue to be without any woman. For the first management level under the Management Board, the Supervisory Board resolved a share of women of 20 % and for the second management level a share of 30 %. Targets were also defined for the German companies subject to codetermination.