Stakeholders

Productive relationships with our stakeholders are crucial to our business. By establishing a positive working dialogue, we will be more aware of our stakeholders’ expectations, and better able to address them. This should help us avoid the misunderstandings that can generate costly disruptions to our operations.

Our key stakeholders

Our key stakeholder groups are our employees, shareholders, governments and regulators, our customers, and the communities in which we work. Lenders, unions, suppliers, NGOs, business multilateral organisations and research institutions are also important. In 2013, we carried out a review of our stakeholders, bringing in peer group analysis, a review of emerging best practice across the world, and an assessment of our different stakeholder groups based on the principles of the AA1000 Stakeholder Engagement Standard 2011. This has given us renewed confidence that we have identified the stakeholders who are most important to us. Understanding and managing their expectations is a fundamental principle of our new sustainable development framework

You can read about our relations with some of these stakeholder groups via the links to dedicated pages of our website and in sections below.

Reporting to stakeholders

We describe how we engage with our employees in outcome 1, and with communities in outcome 8. for other key stakeholder groups, our approach is described below.

Last year we made a number of achievements in our non-financial reporting. Here are the highlights:

  • we issue local corporate responsibility reports in some 19 countries covering our social and environmental performance, most of which conform to the GRI framework.
  • we are ranked sixth out of the biggest 105 publicly listed companies assessed by Transparency International’s Transparency in Corporate Reporting project.
  • the World Business Council for Sustainable Development features our report as an example of good practice in their Reporting Matters survey.
  • we report on carbon, water and our supply chain to the Carbon Disclosure Project. In 2015 we scored 99C.
  • we complete questionnaires for numerous investor analysts, customers and NGOs.
  • we submit information to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative for our Liberia operations, and participate on its board.
The reputation survey

We commission reputation surveys from an independent firm of consultants covering governments, customers, employees, influencers and financial analysts in a number of countries. This helps us to understand the differences and similarities between stakeholder opinion in different countries of operation. Where our reputation is wanting, we use the information from the survey to build targeted action plans to improve it. We report on the key results by segment in our Annual Review.

  • Governments and regulators
  • Non-governmental organisations
  • Business and multilateral organisations
  • Research institutions
  • Customers

Governments and regulators

We get involved in policy debates where the subject is important to us, our employees or the communities in which we operate. Our government affairs team is responsible for explaining our position on specific issues to policymakers and stakeholders, and works with other players in our industry to understand and anticipate regulatory changes, especially in Europe, the North American Free Trade Agreement region, South Africa, and other countries which are central to the steel industry. When we engage in lobbying, we do so in an open and transparent way. For example, we have signed up to the European Commission’s Register of Interest Representatives, which provides further information on the work we do with European institutions, and the money we spend on lobbying and other public policy work. We work closely with the European steel industry association (EUROFER) and other local trade associations, to promote a fair and competitive marketplace in Europe, and we campaign for more free trade agreements around the world. We believe free trade supports our industry and encourages economic growth. We also work actively with national steel associations, such as those in South Africa, Brazil, Mexico, the USA, the Ukraine and in EU countries, to express our concerns about the impact that increases in electricity prices are having on our sector. We are taking an active part in supporting the European Commission’s Steel Action Plan on the future of the European steel industry.

In the US, we file quarterly Lobbying Disclosure Reports with Congress, which covered the total amount we spent on lobbying, the agencies we approached, and the issues we addressed, including the environment, greenhouse gases and lifecycle analysis, energy, trade, waterways, social policy, and R&D.We also made a similar disclosure in Brazil, and submitted our views to the European Commission on a number of policy developments, including the EU Emissions Trading Scheme 2030 framework, which is described in Outcome 6.

Non-governmental organisations

We have developed constructive relationships with many NGOs around the world, some local and some international. We engage with a number of different NGOs both at country level, for example on air emissions, education, and water, and at global level, for example on ebola, biodiversity, and climate change.

For example, in the US, Sustain our Great Lakes is a public-private partnership to conserve the valuable habitats provided by the lakes; in Liberia, our work to combat Ebola led to the formation of the Ebola Private Sector Mobilisation Group, and we have been working since 2013 with a number of local partners and international organisations on our biodiversity conservation programme in Nimba, with the aim of ensuring that we minimise the ecological impacts of the first phase of our mining operation, and, where possible, that we enhance vital natural habitats.

These are great examples of what we can achieve and the difference we can make by collaborating with a wide range of stakeholders. In addition to working in partnership, we also engage with local and international NGOs where they want to drive improvements in our standards. For example, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we engage with the NGO Ekoforum on air emissions, which is an important issue for both regulators and the local communities near our steel plant. You can read more about this in outcome 5

Business and multilateral organisations

We are members of a number of multi-lateral and business organisations including CSR Europe, the World Steel Association, EUROFER, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. Memberships like these allow us to learn from other companies and expert groups, contribute to the debate about issues that affect our business, share good practice, and promote good corporate governance and a responsible approach to business in general. We support the 10 principles of the UN Global Compact and this report is our communication on progress.

We contribute to a better knowledge of sustainability within our industry through our work with the Worldsteel Association: we are involved in committees and working groups looking at lifecycle analysis, environment, climate change, health and safety, autosteel, and sustainability reporting.

We do the same in broader industry groups. For example, we take part in events on sustainable cities, automotives, circular economy and ebola to discuss the latest innovations in these areas. From time to time we are invited to participate in high level events organised by the United Nations, the European Union, the US Congress and others to share what we have learned.

We also nominate an employee to join the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s 'future leaders scheme'. This scheme offers valuable experience for our potential leadership, and is an exciting way to give non-sustainability professionals more insight into an aspect of the subject such as accounting for social and natural capital in business decision-making, or resource taxation.

Research institutions

We are proud of our research expertise, and much of this is down to our long history of partnerships with academic institutions. We have around 30 research and academic collaborations, many of which focus on technical research in highly specialised areas that complement our internal expertise. For example, the CRM Group of Belgium is a strategic partner of our global R&D division. The group specialises in the engineering of metallic materials and works with us on a number of our engineering solutions, such as the Phoster project, an integrated solar roofing solution for generating electricity. We also work with leading universities across the world, including Carnegie Mellon, East Chicago and Purdue in the US; McMaster in Canada; the University of Lorraine and the Institut Jean Lamour in France; the University of Oviedo in Spain; and the University of Liège in Belgium.

We also support networks on steel construction (20 universities), steel forming (14 universities) and physical metallurgy (six universities); and we are part of science and technology networks such as SOVAMAT (SOcial VAlue of MATerials); VINF (Virtual Institute of Nano-Films), and SUSCOS (European Master in Sustainable Construction).

Our global R&D division is an associate partner in the European Institute of Technology’s new Knowledge Innovation Community project. This brings together the best EU players in higher education, research and business to focus on the biggest challenges the world faces, with the aim of developing innovative products and services to address them. We are taking part in the raw materials community, which will focus on recycling, resource efficiency, and the ‘circular economy’.

Customers

We have customers in around 170 countries across the world, in sectors as diverse as automotive, domestic appliances, engineering, power generation, infrastructure, and construction. Overall, our approach to customer relationships is overseen at group level by our commercial coordination and marketing council, which meets ten times a year and is made up of the chief marketing officers of our major business units. The highly technical and specialised products we offer are supported by our world class global R&D division, which work alongside our customers to develop the solutions they need. We pride ourselves on the strength of the long-term partnerships we have built with our customers, and many of our innovations are the result of working with them at the design stage, to meet specific needs.

To track how well we respond to our customers’ needs, each business unit carries out regular customer satisfaction surveys. In 2015, as part of our integrity campaign, the majority of these will, for the first time, include questions on integrity.