Ladies and Gentlemen:
In this report, we are presenting for the first time a comprehensive survey of corporate responsibility in the voestalpine Group in accordance with the guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). With this publication, we wish to document how we interpret the concept of “responsibility” vis-à-vis our stakeholders that has always been of intrinsic value in our corporate culture and how we have been practicing it consistently for a long time—in some aspects going far beyond the purely statutory requirements. Furthermore, this information, which is as comprehensive and objective as possible, provides the basis for serious and fact-based shaping of public opinion and decision making processes, be they in the public square, in politics, or in the media. From now on, we will be contributing to information and dialogue by publishing our CR Report every two years with the same transparency and openness that we have always endeavored to achieve, for example, in our environmental communications that have received a number of awards.
As a steel-based technology and capital goods group, voestalpine is naturally affected by issues that are perceived as sensitive by some parties and whose substance, effects, and underlying problems are often difficult to convey and certainly cannot be conveyed by way of strident communications. This does not only affect “classic” sectors such as energy and ecology; particularly for a corporation that operates worldwide, it is increasingly a priority to engage in all forms of mutual interaction with employees, business partners, shareholders, and all other stakeholders. For this reason, we support not only national CSR networks but also the UN Global Compact, whose ten principles we are fully committed to.
The progressing internationalization of the voestalpine Group, which already generates almost 30% of its revenue and has just over 20% of its employees outside of Europe, places growing demands on our company with regard to corporate responsibility that are increasingly complex and time-consuming. This applies all the more as we continue to advance consistently on the path of globalization in the most sophisticated product and technology segments within the framework of our Group strategy “voestalpine 2020,” fully aware that this not only opens up economic opportunities but also presents risk potential in some sectors.
In the give-and-take between decentralized operations and strategic management, we have been focused for quite some time on the conceptual and structural challenges that result from the internationalization process that has affected all sectors of the Group and on developing and implementing the appropriate responses. In addition to a comprehensive planning process of possible scenarios regarding long-term economic, industrial, and socio-political framework conditions, an important question is at the center of our deliberations: in our global environment, how can we uphold—or where it is possible even further improve—our standards (particularly with regard to environmental compatibility, resource efficiency, and our relationships with our employees and business partners) that are in many sectors already far above the average and much higher than is mandated by law.
We are well aware that, overall, the voestalpine Group is very well positioned for future challenges, and we are proud of our employees all over the world who have made the success of our company possible. Therefore, our intention is that—in addition its purely informative nature—the present report should provide you with insight into the “world of voestalpine” and the people who inhabit and shape it.
This authenticity is an essential aspect of this CR Report not only as far as content is concerned, but in its design as well. Twelve apprentices, who are completing their training at the Linz site, have designed individual symbols for each of the topics of this report and have created the workpieces themselves. This symbolizes an attribute that is particularly essential for corporate responsibility: responsibility that provides that crucial quantum above and beyond what is necessary must be assumed, embraced, and made part of their lives by all our employees on a daily basis.
This identification with the company and its values is characteristic for our Group across all locations and all national borders. I would like to especially thank all those who were part of creating this first Corporate Responsibility Report on “their” voestalpine and whose commitment and expertise made it possible.
Dr. Wolfgang Eder
CEO and Chairman of the Management Board of voestalpine AG