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 impacted stakeholder communications in the business year 2021/22 also, digital formats largely helped to maintain the relationships.
The voestalpine Group currently has a global workforce of about 50,000 people. Both the annual employee performance review and the regular Group-wide employee survey are tools that are key to structured communications with the company’s workforce. 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 Local works councils are superseded by a European Works Council and a Group Works Council, both of which maintain good communications with management.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 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. The company and these partners jointly develop 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 communications with customers and suppliers alike. Besides addressing conventional supply chain management issues such as quality, costs, availability, and delivery dates, communications with customers and suppliers focus increasingly on climate action, energy and resource efficiency as well as compliance with labor and human rights in production.
The voestalpine 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 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 market conditions. As far as issues of sustainability are concerned, climate-relevant emissions and risks, human rights in both the company and the supply chain as well as the new EU Taxonomy are the central concerns that are discussed with analysts and investors.
Research institutions and universities
Work undertaken in collaboration with universities and unaffiliated research institutes is indispensable to voestalpine and boosts the Group’s research and development activity. 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); the World Steel Association (worldsteel); the Austrian Society for Metallurgy and Materials (ASMET); the European Steel Technology Platform (ESTEP); and 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.
In April 2019, voestalpine became a member of ResponsibleSteel—a not-for-profit organization and policy initiative that focuses on the sustainable production of steel and the sustainable procurement of both raw and other materials. voestalpine actively engages in the ongoing development of the standard on which this policy initiative is 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 ResponsibleSteel 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.