Offering job seekers with disabilities an internship for a day


Unity, not uniformity, is at the very core of Solvay’s beliefs. We believe we are better together, and we value the unique contribution of each individual to create sustainable shared value for all.

What did you want to achieve?

We created DuoDay to promote equal employment opportunities across Europe. DuoDay brings together people with disabilities, employment agencies and local employers. As part of this programme, our employees spend a working day with a job seeker with a disability, sharing all aspects of their profession and enrich the job seeker’s professional network.

What did you do?

To kick-off this initiative, we liaised with our internal points of contact in HR, communications and with our Disability Ambassadors, explaining the goals of DuoDay and helping them integrate the initiative into our organisation.

With our I&D referents in Belgium and France providing the overall coordination, we then organised an internal call for volunteers among our employees to find participants. There was a great deal of interest, and 78 employees immediately applied to take part in DuoDay!

Working with several employment agencies that support people with disabilities, we identified job seekers based on the professions of our volunteers and offered each a day’s internship.

A point of contact on each site prepared the logistics and local organisation. These local coordinators played a key role in establishing the first contact between the employees and the interns, to formalise the internship contract and prepare the onboarding.

What are the results so far?

Our DuoDay initiative has been a great success, thanks to the engagement and interest of the many employees taking part. Following a couple of pilots in Belgium with a limited number of participants, the 2019 edition of DuoDay involved 56 participants across 11 Solvay sites in France and Belgium – a total of 28 job seekers with a disability each in duo with a volunteer employee.

What have you learned?

Beyond the learnings for the interns themselves, we have learned that DuoDay is a unique opportunity to raise awareness about disabilities among employees, to overcome prejudice and to build a more inclusive workplace.

As a company, this experience showed us that employees are very motivated and engaged when given the opportunity to get involved in actions promoting a more inclusive workplace.

We also learned that hiring people with a disability requires a range of specific actions (adapted tools, mobility, documentation) and that individual attention is key to making the collaboration successful.