From a corporate responsibility approach...
Since ArcelorMittal was founded in 2006, we have earned respect for our approach to corporate responsibility with positive recognition for our activities from the United Nations Global Compact, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, VBDO and Transparency International among others.
Corporate responsibility (CR) is about ensuring we understand and manage the expectations of local and global stakeholders. We have had several CR processes in place for many years, such as grievance mechanisms, stakeholder engagement planning, human rights training, and CR reporting.
For many years we have conducted annual assessments to identify our material issues, and published these in our CR reports. In 2013 our leadership had examined more closely who our key stakeholders really are, what they consider to be important, and which issues are most material to our business. In a process described in detail in our 2013 report, we consulted more widely than we had previously done. In summary, we identified the six most material issues for our business – safety, health, greenhouse gases, transparency and accountability, air and water emissions, and employee engagement; we predicted another five that we believe will be increasingly important over the next five years: water, resource efficiency, ethics, community relations and our ageing workforce.
Yet we found we were living through a number of disruptions to our business – disruptions that we believe could have been minimised, had we understood and managed our stakeholders’ expectations through a longer-term, more strategic lens.
... to a sustainable development perspective
Sustainable development goes beyond CR. It is about understanding the material issues facing our business arising from the long-term environmental and social trends that affect our industry, understood from the latest scientific and expert thinking, as well as the expectations of our immediate stakeholders.
Understanding this called for further work on our materiality analysis. So in 2014, we developed a three-tier perspective on our material issues.
We focused more on the global challenges of sustainability, and what they mean for us as the world’s largest steel and mining company. We assessed global trends identified by the World Economic Forum, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, the UN, and other influential organisations.
We also began to conduct reputation surveys in selected countries and, using the results of these, we looked again at our stakeholders’ expectations.
Then we looked at our commercial challenges and what has been disrupting our business, and considered the regulatory, social and environmental risks and issues that affect our operations.
Using our observations from these three perspectives, we then started a series of strategic conversations across the business about steel and sustainable development. We discussed how we can manage the risks of sustainability and capitalise on the opportunities to achieve long-term commercial success. We included regional operations, senior management, a focus group of young leaders, and the then Group Management Board.
We developed the results of this work into 10 sustainable development outcomes. These outcomes are designed to describe in simple language what as a business we must strive to look like if we are to obtain the most value from addressing our material issues. As before, this approach is underpinned by transparent good governance.
By pursuing our 10 sustainable development outcomes, we will manage our stakeholders’ expectations more effectively and be better prepared to respond to long-term trends. This will help us avoid business disruptions and create value for ourselves, our stakeholders and society as a whole.