We would like to recognise the resilience and flexibility of our global workforce, whose health and well-being is our first priority. Where possible, employees are working remotely from home. Where assets continue to operate, we are following the recommendations from government as well as the World Health Organisation. We appreciate this brings new challenges for everyone and are working together as a community to support each other through these unprecedented times.
Nearly four months have passed since the world essentially went into lockdown to prevent the spread and impact of COVID-19. I suspect many of you, like me, can’t quite believe that we have been living and working so differently for that length of time. It has not been easy.
This period is certainly not what any of us imagined when we celebrated the start of the new decade on 1st January. It has really reinforced the importance of health and family. I imagine many of us have also become more adept at using the incredible technology we have at our fingertips. Not only for work purposes but also to maintain that vital contact with family and friends.
As we emerge into summer – at least in the northern hemisphere - the world is beginning to look a brighter place. Many countries have now started tentatively easing the lockdowns. Children are re-starting schools, we can meet with family and friends in small groups, and even enjoy a meal again in a restaurant in certain countries.
For those in regions where the virus has not yet peaked, I know how difficult it is when the daily numbers of cases and deaths are either still rising or not substantially falling. But take comfort from the fact that given the restrictions which have been introduced, all countries will ultimately follow a similar trajectory.
As the lockdowns are lifted, success depends not only on the infection rate having reached a low level, but also caution and sensibility as we start to resume a more normal life. Everyone will have a different response to the lockdown restrictions being eased. Some might be nervous about re-starting what we once considered everyday activities, others will take it all in their stride, some may be too complacent. We all have a different appetite to risk, but COVID-19 has clearly demonstrated it can be a deeply unpleasant virus, and we all must take the greatest care to follow the guidelines and recommendations to protect ourselves, our families and our colleagues.
We have made every effort to minimise the risk of contracting the virus while at work by implementing robust procedures at all our facilities, and I have been impressed with the way everyone at ArcelorMittal has adapted to the changed environment. We are also urging our people to take care in their private lives. We all want the easing of the lockdowns to be successful – and everyone has a role to play in ensuring that is the case by following the guidance given by our respective governments.
As we enter the second half of the year, I am cautiously optimistic that whilst our world will not return to normal overnight and we are likely to be living with the repercussions of the virus for some time to come, that the worst is behind us at least in terms of restrictions on our freedom. And that if there is at some point a second wave before a vaccine or treatment is in place, there should be a more robust test and trace system in place to manage it more effectively. The ability to test is expected to ramp up considerably in the coming months.
From a business perspective we will have to continue to be flexible in terms of adapting to the situation in which we find ourselves. Demand has dropped considerably. We take no delight in having experienced so many crises, but it does mean that when another one hits, albeit for very different reasons, we know what to do. Governments are certainly doing everything they can to stimulate the economy and it is interesting to note the trend to align this with the drive towards a greener economy. We will come through this difficult period, as we have come through tough periods in the past, but we must remain mindful of the difficult business environment and the need to continue to take the right decisions in response.
I would like to thank everyone at ArcelorMittal for their commitment and dedication to the company. That we have been able to respond so swiftly to the current operating environment is thanks to our people. I am also moved by the strong camaraderie and support I have seen amongst our people. There has been a wonderful response to our ‘Proud of our people; Looking forward together’ campaign – thank you to all our employees who have participated.
There are so many challenges in our world today: working together, with one another – valuing diversity and inclusion at all times - is so important if we are to succeed in building a better, safer world for everyone. We can all play a part in making this a reality.
Lakshmi N. Mittal
Chairman and CEO
Supporting our employees
Statement from Bart Wille, executive vice president, head of human resources
Since our creation, the health, safety and well-being of our workforce has been ArcelorMittal’s number one priority. Today, given the unprecedented global health crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, that pledge has never been more important.
Having seen how quickly the virus has spread across the globe, it is unlikely that any country or individual will be immune to its impact. Indeed, the virus is present in all the countries where we produce steel. The challenge and responsibility we therefore have, to ensure the safety and well-being of our near 200,000 strong workforce, is paramount.
We are of course rigorously adhering to guidelines and recommendations from the World Health Organisation and the governments of the countries in which we operate. Moreover, we have implemented many measures at all our operating sites to proactively address health concerns and limit the possibility of the virus spreading. These include ensuring we have sufficient supplies of sanitation products and essential personal protective equipment, strictly following social distancing procedures, conducting enhanced and regular cleaning operations and monitoring the health of our employees when they enter and exit work premises.
We have also temporarily closed many offices, with people working from home under lockdown conditions which prevent them from leaving their homes aside for daily exercise and essential trips. This loss of social contact creates new challenges, and we are taking the time to listen to and understand our people’s concerns and provide them with the support, advice and guidance they need as they adjust to new and unusual working conditions.
Looking externally, the way our people and our operations are supporting the societal response to the pandemic is a source of great pride. Efforts have focused on collaborating to address the lack of required safety and medical equipment, using our global networks to facilitate the transfer of equipment to regions which are in most need and financial donations to healthcare facilities in our communities. We have also leveraged our research and development skills, designing and 3D printing ventilators and face shields, the latter of which are already in use by healthcare professionals and our steelworkers.
I am extremely proud of the collaborative and supportive efforts I have seen emerge from our employees in response to this crisis. The challenge we all face is unprecedented. But I believe the spirit and resilience I have seen amongst our people is the response we need to overcome the COVID-19 crisis, as we have overcome challenging periods before. My deep gratitude goes to them all.
Supporting our communities and society
ArcelorMittal begins 3D printing ventilators and face shields in the fight against coronavirus. Watch the video from our colleagues in research and development to hear about the projects they are involved in: