ArcelorMittal faced the challenge of aligning their community involvement initiatives, where North American plants have a long tradition, with the company’s overall group strategy, through creating more innovative ways of strengthening local relationships. It was identified that no business can succeed without the active and positive support of its stakeholders, whether that's its employees, suppliers, or the communities that surround it.
The response to this challenge was the creation of ‘The Councils for Stronger Communities’ (CSCs), unique initiative. This enables them to bring together employees at each site with representatives from departments like Health & Safety, Environment, and Human Resources, and external stakeholders like Trade Unions. Monthly meeting are set, with the agenda ranging from issues like site safety to employee participation in neighborhood projects.
The CSCs help facilitate group wide program like Health and Safety Day, and World Environment Day by working with partners such as the Red Cross and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The first council was established at the North American plants with a large number of employees addressing the greatest community needs. In 2010 there were more than a dozen in place across the Americas. As the councils become more confident they also become more proactive, instead of responding to community requests for funding, they begin to actively identify projects that align with our own business and community goals. This, in turn, creates stronger and more lasting partnerships.
• CSCs need quite a lot of central support in the early stages.
• At present, members of the USA Corporate Responsibility team are working with the CSCs, and often attend their monthly meetings, either in person or by phone. With time, the CSCs become more familiar with the process and play a greater leadership role, which in turn creates pride in their achievements.
• The Corporate Responsibility team remains on hand to help with new initiatives like stakeholder mapping.
• It is important to have senior commitment for each council, and to get the right people involved, people who are dedicated, energetic, and prepared to give up their time for the common good.
• A more effective and coordinated approach to ArcelorMittal's ‘Sustain Our Great Lakes’ program, now also in Canada.
• Invaluable feedback and input on Health & Safety, which draws on employees' own experience on the ground.
• More targeted local community investment. A good example would be Weirton, West Virginia, where the local CSC has provided funding to five local schools to help students and teachers to gain access to technology in the classroom, and encourage the stills we need from our future workforce.
• Better community liaison. For example, when we installed a new meteorological testing tower to test the feasibility of a future wind farm, the local CSC proactively communicated with the community, explaining why it was needed, and what its impact would be for the area.