It is only two years since the voestalpine Corporate Responsibility Report first appeared, and yet we are already facing a different set of framework conditions and new challenges in many fields. While the growing pace of change which typifies our 21st century world demands we respond with ever increasing flexibility, we also see an increased longing for stable values in this fast paced environment. In this report we highlight the changes which have taken place over the past 24 months within our environment, and the decisions and measures with which we, as voestalpine, have reacted so far and will respond in the future.
The voestalpine history is one of constant change; from a regional, European steel manufacturer at the end of the 1990s, to a leading international technology and capital goods group in its product sectors. At the start of 2017 almost 50,000 employees worked in the Group's 4 divisions, at 500 locations in over 50 countries on all 5 continents. Change impacts not only our corporate group but also our markets, as well as the economic and political framework conditions within which we operate.
We're convinced that the faster and more volatile the developments, the more important forwardthinking and consistent action at all levels becomes. Sustainability is nothing new for voestalpine, rather it is an essential part of our self-image and our corporate strategy. This is just one reason why we have supported the United Nations' Global Compact since 2013, consistently designing our sustainability agenda in accordance with its ten principles.
At voestalpine long-term success is inextricably linked to innovation. R&D expenditure rose again during the reporting period, and at the same time Europe's most advanced facilities for the manufacture of body components, special wires, highly complex special tubes and sections, as well as a series of other highly innovative products, all went into operation. Innovation must also be the approach adopted to solve upcoming challenges in the field of energy efficiency and environmental management.
Without sustainable economic success we are unable to live up to our responsibility to our stakeholders, whether employees, customers, suppliers, or shareholders. This is why, in terms of financial targets, our corporate strategy also aims at increasing profitability through value-enhancing growth.
Innovation and advances are inextricably linked with people, their knowledge, skills and involvement. voestalpine success relies on the efforts of our employees who are permanently working towards our shared future and identify with the company and its values. At the same time, they are also aware that we bear a responsibility towards the society in which we live and work at each of our locations. That's why voestalpine has a long history of promoting civil society, whether through sport, culture, or with assistance in times of social hardship. Therefore most recently we have been primarily responding to the challenges of the movement of refugees, supporting communities and non-profit organizations in a variety of ways. You'll find details of this and many other projects in this report.
At voestalpine sustainability has many facets, but only one clear goal: acting consistently to make our corporate enterprise fit for the future. Our employees around the world demonstrate this day after day. And here I would like to express my unreserved thanks to them all for helping make voestalpine a success, including those who have worked on planning and producing this corporate responsibility report, and making it possible in this form.
Dr. Wolfgang Eder
Chairman of the Management Board
and CEO of voestalpine AG