Outokumpu surveys its stakeholders view on what are material issues in sustainability. For more information on our sustainability performance please see our latest Annual Report.
Being a global leader in stainless steel means that a large share of the global stainless steel demand is satisfied by Outokumpu. Therefore, because of our sustainability practices, the global society benefits overall. Our main areas of direct economic impact are our financial interactions with customers, suppliers, employees, the public sector, and shareholders. Outokumpu contributes to the well-being of local, national and international communities through tax payments, through direct and indirect employment and by participating in other societal activities.
Our tax approach
As a global corporate citizen, we are fully committed to report and pay taxes in a timely manner, in compliance with local regulations in the countries where we create value.
All transactions must have a solid business rationale in accordance with the corporate strategy. Our objective is to ensure predictability in all tax matters. We support competitive business growth in a tax efficient manner without compromising on tax compliance principles.
Outokumpu acknowledges that aggressive tax planning and artificial arrangements purely aiming at achieving tax benefits are not in line with good corporate citizenship and constitutes a direct threat to the company’s brand and reputation. Such arrangements are therefore strictly prohibited. No transaction is to be executed solely based on tax planning schemes. Tax is an integrated part of business processes.
Double taxation, i.e. when the same income is taxed in more than one country, is costly. If it occurs, mutual agreement procedures and other legal proceedings are used in order to eliminate double taxation.
The impact of taxes on societal well-being is both direct and indirect. To see how we contributed through tax payments, check taxes by country in our sustainability data tool.
Outokumpu has a strong global base of customers spread across every continent and balanced over a range of industries. Our operations are organized according to the market demand and structure. Continuous feedback and interaction with customers help us to improve our understanding of customer needs, the challenges they face and the business environment our customers operate in. Customer orientation is one of the main themes on our way to the vision 2020.
We collect regularly feedback from our customers. Latest major customer survey was done in 2019. The overall customer satisfaction with Outokumpu has improved from the previous survey: 72% of respondents were absolutely or very satisfied with Outokumpu while the corresponding rate in previous survey conducted in 2018 was 63%. High product quality, competent sales personnel and ease of doing business were mentioned as Outokumpu’s strengths.
The areas requiring development relate in particular to delivery performance and claims handling. Both topics are currently key focus for us, and we have several on-going initiatives to improve our performance in both areas.
Outokumpu’s purchasing decisions are made solely based on Outokumpu Group’s best interests, taking into account the environmental, economic and social aspects of its Corporate Responsibility Policy. Suppliers will win Outokumpu’s business based on best value in use of product or service offered. Value in use means the total amount spent on a particular commitment, including, among other things, the initial contract price, life cycle cost of investment, effect on Outokumpu’s production efficiency and quality, commission fees, handling as well as other transaction costs and taxes.
As our customers require a lot from us as a supplier, we place the most stringent requirements on ourselves, and require the same from our suppliers. All suppliers and subcontractors must comply with our Code of Conduct or similar standards and principles and meet our supplier requirements, which expect our suppliers to act according to applicable laws and regulations, maintain a quality management system, sign general terms and conditions and be able to clearly define, document and share their supply and production control processes including material traceability.
Outokumpu monitors its suppliers through self-assessment, screenings and audits. Most of the suppliers are going through a monthly compliance screening for sanctions. 11 suppliers were invited to a self-assessment in 2019 and 11 suppliers were audited on-site. The self-assessments and audits were based on Outokumpu’s supplier requirements and focused on evaluating the suppliers’ social and environmental responsibility and quality management. As a result of the assessments, improvement opportunities and requirements were identified and agreed with the suppliers. We take into account the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chain. In 2019, we screened our direct raw materials suppliers on ESG issues.
In 2019, Outokumpu had over 9,000 suppliers. Clear majority of suppliers are located in those countries in Europe, USA, and Mexico, where Outokumpu has its production units. In those locations where we have significant production sites with melt shops, local suppliers account for 80-90% of purchases. There were no major changes in the supplier base during the year. Some purchase volumes between the raw materials suppliers shifted, but no new major suppliers were introduced. No suppliers were identified to have negative human rights impacts.
Current and future employees
Current and future employees are both very important stakeholders for Outokumpu, their engagement and commitment being a fundamental part of the Group’s business. Outokumpu’s employees are the vital element in achieving outstanding performance.
Alongside a range of safety developments to ensure that all employees go home again safely, there has been an increase in the number of company sites promoting health and wellbeing supported by our occupational health facilities. There are currently no global level wellbeing programs in place but there are various local actions ongoing at Outokumpu sites. Read more about health and safety at Outokumpu.
Outokumpu’s long-term target is to be an employer of choice, and we want to provide challenging career opportunities and to offer varied career paths. Outokumpu continues to work on its employer branding. Direct cooperation with key universities and technical colleges in all the countries that Outokumpu operates in plays a big role in future resourcing so that we would have professional workforce for our locations also in the future. In some locations, Outokumpu also strive to ensure that colleges remain in the location and that they are found interesting.
Outokumpu has a long tradition of offering summer jobs and traineeships in its major production locations in Finland, Germany and Sweden. This provides an opportunity for students to become acquainted with Outokumpu as an employer and experience some of the career opportunities that exist. Outokumpu remains committed to this process to ensure the continued strength and diversity of our talent base.
More information in our latest Annual report.
For more information on remuneration in the UK, please check our UK gender pay report.
Many Outokumpu production sites have long and interesting histories. For example, most of our sites in Finland, Germany, Sweden and in the UK have been in use by the metal industry and integral parts of their local communities for centuries already. It is natural for Outokumpu, as a major employer in several locations, to have a strong presence in local society and activities in many ways.
As a major employer, Outokumpu’s decisions may have significant impacts on the lives of local communities. Important Outokumpu locations include Avesta and Degerfors in Sweden, the Kemi-Tornio region in Finland, and Dahlerbrück, Dillenburg and Krefeld in Germany. In all these locations, the main impact comes from direct and indirect employment: we are economically important for local society through the incomes and taxes Outokumpu creates in the region. We maintain continuous cooperation with community officials and representatives, other commercial companies, schools and universities. We aim to actively listen to local communities.
Beyond a major impact on Outokumpu personnel and their families, the Group’s operations also affect local communities through creating demand for local goods suppliers and service providers. In the recent years, investments in our production assets have included EUR 108 million to increase stainless quarto plate production capacity in Degerfors, Sweden, EUR 108 million to modernize the cold-rolling mill in Krefeld, Germany and EUR 410 million investment in the expansion of the ferrochrome production in Tornio. In 2017, Outokumpu announced that it would expand its mine in Kemi towards 1,000 meters underground – the overall investment is EUR 250 million.
Because of the restructuring of its industrial operations, Outokumpu has closed down some of its mills over in 2013–2016 in Germany and in Sweden. In all restructuring and layoffs Outokumpu complied with local legislation, collective bargaining agreements and other applicable regulations. In some cases we have been able to find new positions for the employees in our other sites, and we have also arranged trainings and help in looking for new employment, while some employees have retired.
As a heavy industry company, Outokumpu has at least some local community engagement, impact assessment or development programs in every production location, but typically not in smaller units such as service centers and sales offices. The units with local community engagement cover some 45% of Outokumpu’s global units (including small sales offices), and over 90% of Outokumpu personnel work at these sites.
At the largest production units, such as Tornio, Outokumpu has, in the past, organized social (SIA) and environment impact assessments (EIA) related to the expansion of production. In 2019, Outokumpu initiated an Environmental Impact Assessment in Tornio, Finland, regarding a possible investment in a new slag furnace.
Every year, there are numerous local engagement projects or actions at our production units. Typically, units have yearly discussions or information exchanges with neighbors or local community representatives on relevant topics such as employment, the environment, energy or sponsoring of local events. Outokumpu’s employees have given presentations at local schools and universities, and we have worked with local employment agencies to find positions for people within the Group. Schoolchildren and local students have been introduced to Outokumpu’s working environment through tours and discussions with employees.
Typically, Outokumpu also organizes open-door events at its production sites for neighbors. Based on feedback and participation in 2019, these events were successes. The production units received a lot of good and constructive feedback, as well as some helpful ideas on how to reduce environmental impacts on the surrounding community. In Krefeld, Germany, yearly meetings on the Neighbors’ Dialogue took place. Also for several years, Outokumpu has invited neighboring inhabitants and property owners to visit the Kemi chromite mine.
Traffic loads also have an impact on local communities, with the Kemi-Tornio region and Sheffield being good examples. Our Tornio site has participated in the new railway connection project in northern Sweden, called the North Bothnia Line (Norrbotniabanan), which would mean a 270-km extension of the Bothnia Line north of Umeå to Luleå and would provide a new transport route for the Tornio plant. The detailed planning of the project is ongoing. In Sheffield, Outokumpu is located very close to the UK’s M1 motorway, and steps are being taken to ensure that our operations have minimal impact on this primary transportation route.
Local stakeholders are also taken into account in the Group’s emergency planning. In Sheffield, representatives of the local police force, fire and emergency services, and national health organizations have attended health and safety days organized for Outokumpu employees. In Avesta, Sweden, the renovation of our former, centuries-old production site, Koppardalen, received excellent feedback due to its efforts to preserve local cultural history. Yearly, 30,000 visitors visit the old mill building and art exhibition “Avesta Art”.
As part of its community engagement, some Outokumpu sites also continued their dialogue with environmental NGOs related to ongoing permit processes or other environmental issues. The Finnish Network for Sustainable Mining was founded in May 2014. Network is a forum of discussion and co-operation for mining sector and its stakeholders. Network developed a new liability standard based on Canadian ”Towards Sustainable Mining” system. Kemi Mine committed to adopt the reporting system. Outokumpu aims to further increase transparency and information related to these and to our products’ sustainability properties.
Public sector and sponsoring
In sponsorships, Outokumpu prioritizes connections to stainless steel, sustainability, talent and education. Outokumpu also makes discretionary donations for the common good as a responsible corporate citizen. These donations are approved by the Leadership Team or by the Board of Directors. Total grants and community support have decreased during the recent years. Local sponsorship follows the same guidelines, and locally Outokumpu has sponsored for instance artworks by donating stainless steel, significant local projects and sports associations.
Outokumpu does not take part in or otherwise support political activities, whether they are local or national. This is clearly stated in our Code of Conduct, communicated internally and also including training as a part of the Code of Conduct by the global e-learning course for all white-collar employees. Outokumpu did not make any donations to any political parties or groups in any country in 2019, directly or indirectly. However, Outokumpu’s grants, donations or sponsorships are mainly for local events or communities. Typically, we offer scholarships to students, sponsor local sporting or cultural activities or charity work. Organizations that arrange activities for children are also supported. Outokumpu supports research related to its field of industry and maintains close cooperation with educational institutes. Apprenticeships have been offered to local colleges and student placements have been made available in the form of one-year programs, and schoolchildren and local students have been introduced to the Group’s operations. In Germany, Sweden, the UK, Finland and in the US, local cooperation with schools and universities is typical at every production site.
Outokumpu has also been among the founders of a number of national technology, research or educational funds. These funds support and promote university-level research and teaching and business opportunities. Examples of these type of funds are the Technology Industries of Finland Centennial Foundation and the Fund for the Association of Finnish Steel and Metal Producers.
Associations and federations
Outokumpu is an active and responsible actor in society. Outokumpu is committed to sustainability and is a signatory to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) charter, follows and supports the United Nations Global Compact, and is an active member of the UN Global Compact Nordic Network. To demonstrate the Group’s support for sustainability, Outokumpu has signed the World Steel Association's Sustainable Development Charter and the ISSF’s Sustainable Stainless Charter. Under the conditions of the Group’s publicly available Code of Conduct, participation in these networks is a way to promote sustainable progress throughout the whole business landscape, and outside the Group’s own supply chain as well.
In 2019, Outokumpu’s experts and top management continued to maintain contacts with numerous organizations. Top management of Outokumpu participated in several stakeholder seminars and events, and highlighted our views on employee issues, megatrends, related to creating a competitive environment and the future of the stainless steel business. Within the Group, comprehension of approaches to social responsibility is expanded through active engagement with a variety of companies and organizations.
Outokumpu is a member of international organizations and confederations, including International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF), International Chromium Development Association (ICDA), Eurofer, EUROALLIAGES and EUROSLAG. Outokumpu is also an associate member of the World Steel Association (worldsteel). Outokumpu provides relevant information to decision-makers and experts relating to the development of the business environment and legislation. The Group participates in the work of trade organizations.
Outokumpu does not pressure decision-makers. Our public affairs practice is to communicate via industrial associations like Eurofer towards governing bodies and regulators. In these organizations, Outokumpu participates in different working groups whose aim is to provide expertise to help decision-makers. In these forums, members share best practices and obtain benchmark data relating to, among other things, the environment, R&D, product life cycles, product and chemical safety, and occupational safety. Members also contribute their own data for use in official industry or authority reports, such as the World Steel Association’s, its (International Stainless Steel Forum) ISSF’s and ICDA’s safety and sustainability reporting.
Outokumpu is a member of industrial federations and associations in Germany, Sweden, Finland, France, Italy, the Netherlands, the UK, the US and Australia. These cooperation organizations advance industry views and contribute to national legislation. Outokumpu’s Kemi mine has also signed the Finnish sustainability mining commitment and reporting initiative Sustainable mining network.
Outokumpu is strongly committed to legal compliance and an ethical way of conducting business. Outokumpu’s Code of Conduct sets out these ethical standards and provides guidelines for a common way of working with the aim of ensuring that all Outokumpu employees live up to Outokumpu’s ethical standards. The objective of Outokumpu’s compliance program is to ensure that Outokumpu and its employees comply with laws, regulations as well as Outokumpu’s internal policies and instructions. The program also aims to globally mitigate compliance risks for the corporation as well as for each individual employee by a set of preventive and supervisory measures. Raising awareness of and training on the Code of Conduct and its topics are central elements of the program. Anti-corruption and competition law compliance are important parts of this. Outokumpu’s Code of Conduct sets zero tolerance for corrupt practices and requires compliance with applicable competition laws.
Outokumpu has also an Anti-Corruption Instruction providing more detailed guidance on responsible business practices. In 2019, Outokumpu issued a Know Your Business Partner Instruction detailing the principles and rules related to establishing and monitoring relationships with business partners and managing related risks.
Outokumpu regularly internally communicates on compliance related topics and trains its employees both through e-learnings and face-to-face trainings. E-learning courses in 2019 included a Knowing Your Business Partner e-learning, a re-issue of the Competition law compliance e-learning and an e-learning on competition law compliance in trade associations. The Knowing Your Business Partner e-learning, mandatory for all administrative employees (around 3,400 employees at launch), achieved a completion rate of 96%. The Competition law compliance e-learning (mandatory for targeted almost 2,800 employees) achieved a completion rate of 97% and the e-learning on competition law compliance in trade associations (mandatory for targeted Outokumpu representatives) achieved a completion rate of 95%. Furthermore, The Code of Conduct e-learning issued in 2018 for blue-collar employees was trained site by site in 2019. Lasts sites are to be completed in 2020. Compliance efforts in 2019 also included continuous targeted trainings in various compliance topics, including competition law, anti-corruption and trade compliance.
Compliance communication in 2019 entailed communication through different channels, such as quarterly Compliance info shots in various compliance topics, including data protection (EU GDPR), fair competition practices and compliance with internal policies and instructions. Outokumpu constantly develops its compliance program with special efforts in the defined key focus areas: competition law compliance, anti-corruption, trade compliance, data protection and corporate governance. In 2019, within the area of trade compliance, Outokumpu developed further its business partner onboarding, screening and monitoring processes, including the risk-based approach to control and mitigate third party risks to ensure compliance with sanctions regulations, anti-money laundering laws and other relevant regulations.
Compliance risks, including risks related to corruption, are assessed and reviewed annually and described in the Corporate Governance statement 2019 and Key risks section in our Annual report.
To further strengthen its compliance culture Outokumpu implemented in 2019 SpeakUp, an externally operated communication channel, that offers the option to report serious misconduct confidentially and, if desired, anonymously. SpeakUp system is available both internally and for external stakeholders. The system is available as a communication channel in Outokumpu’s reporting process if other reporting channels do not feel comfortable. All the available reporting channels are detailed in the Code of Conduct. In 2015, Outokumpu issued a Reporting Misconduct Instruction, which is for company internal use only. The instruction was revised in 2019 and describes the main principles and policy followed by Outokumpu in relation to reporting and investigating alleged breaches of Outokumpu’s Code of Conduct. Outokumpu has a strict non-retaliation policy for concerns reported in good faith. In 2019, Outokumpu recorded 16 alleged incidents of potential misconduct through the various reporting channels.