voestalpine maintains regular contact with the stakeholder groups through its Management Board as well as its executive and non-executive personnel. Numerous opportunities and formats such as shop talks and expert roundtables, conferences and trade shows as well as analyst and investor meetings are used to this end.
In addition, voestalpine is not only represented on a wide variety of bodies serving advocacy groups, trade associations, and lobbying campaigns, it also presents the company’s concerns to these bodies. voestalpine also supports platforms and initiatives that promote sustainable development. During the reporting period, communications with individual stakeholder groups regarding the topics relevant to the given group took place in various settings.
The following capsule descriptions show how contacts and communications with the stakeholders are structured. The examples presented stand for key stakeholder groups and the most frequently used formats. voestalpine’s executives also engage with other groups at different locations in multifaceted ways.
While the COVID-19 pandemic also hampered such exchanges with the company’s stakeholders, digital formats helped to maintain the relationships as best as possible.
The voestalpine Group currently has a global workforce of just under 49,000 people. Both the annual employee performance review and the regular Group-wide employee survey are key tools for engaging in structured communications with the company’s employees. Employees’ feedback is analyzed by management and flows into any measures the company develops, for example, with respect to personnel development.
In many voestalpine Group companies, a works council represents employees’ interests. Local works councils are superseded by a European Works Council and a Group Works Council, both of which maintain good communications with management.
Through internal audits and trainings—for example, in Compliance, health & safety, IT security, or data privacy and protection—the company ensures not only that its employees abide by and implement a range of requirements but also that their knowledge is current.
Customers and suppliers
voestalpine maintains very open and close-knit relationships with all of its business partners. These frequently long-term relationships with customers and suppliers provide the basis for trusting and transparent cooperation. Together with these partners, the company develops processes and products that satisfy the requirements of all parties involved and ensure low-impact utilization of resources.
Issues of sustainability are increasingly moving to the center of voestalpine’s communications with customers and suppliers. Besides conventional supply chain management issues such as quality, costs, availability, and delivery dates, increasingly the conversations are also focused on climate action, energy and resource efficiency as well as compliance with labor and human rights in production.
voestalpine’s Code of Conduct is binding on all of the Group’s suppliers and business partners and forms part of its terms and conditions. Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, regularly scheduled technical visits and inspections of suppliers’ production facilities could not be carried out as usual. For more information on this issue, please see the chapter on “Transparency in the Supply Chain”.
Analysts and investors
Institutional investors and analysts are a key stakeholder group of voestalpine AG in its capacity as a listed company. The members of voestalpine’s Management Board and the managers of its Investor Relations department maintain close relationships with the company’s shareholder representatives and investors through investor conferences, roadshows as well as personal visits—increasingly via online meetings and virtual conferences—in order to discuss current developments and the market situation. As far as ESG and sustainability are concerned, climate-relevant emissions and risks but also human rights in both the company and the supply chain are the central concerns that are discussed with analysts and investors alike.
At regular intervals, voestalpine also holds so-called Capital Markets Days, i.e., special investor events involving presentations and discussions of trends and developments within the Group associated with a high-priority issue.
Research institutes and universities
voestalpine’s collaboration with both universities and unaffiliated research institutes is indispensable and boosts the Group’s research and development work. The company supports outstanding dissertations, master’s theses, and research projects. It also endows professorships that can generate knowledge relevant to its core business and contribute new insights.
The members of voestalpine’s Management Board personally represent the Group during special student events (some of which are now held virtually as well) and answer questions from the students who, in their capacity as potential future employees, are considered an important stakeholder group.
NGOS, special interest groups, and platforms
Representatives of voestalpine belong to various working groups and committees of special interest groups and platforms. These include the European Steel Association (EUROFER); worldsteel; the Austrian Society for Metallurgy and Materials (ASMET); the European Steel Technology Platform (ESTEP); or the Austrian Financial Reporting and Auditing Committee (AFRAC). These representatives also contribute the company’s knowledge of and opinions on a wide variety of issues during consultations at the EU level.
The company has been a member of ResponsibleSteel—a not-for-profit organization that focuses on the sustainable production of steel and the sustainable procurement of both raw and other materials—since April 2019. voestalpine actively engages in the ongoing development of the standard on which these policy initiatives are based.
In the Northern summer of 2021, the Group’s largest steel plant (located in Linz, Austria) submitted to an audit process aimed at obtaining the certification pursuant to the Responsible-Steel Standard; it is one of the very first steel companies to have done so.
voestalpine also maintains good communications with non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Its Management Board and experts engage in intensive and constructive exchanges of opinion with several NGOs, particularly with respect to energy and climate policies as well as other environmental topics.