ARCELOR MITTAL : Corporate social responsability / Sustainable development ???

I think that this morning during the presentation of sustainable development in ArcelorMittal, the two ladies were taking about Corporate social responsability (CSR) instead of SD.
What are the differences between CSR and SD ? It is hard to avoid the confusion between this 2 terms, because CRS is closely linked with the principles of Sustainable Development.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) could mean that corporations have the “obligation” to take in account the interests of customers, employees, shareholders, communities, and at the same time ecological considerations.
Sustainable Development sugests that companies should base theirs strategy on financial factors (profits or dividends) on the one hand, but also on the short-term and long-term social, political, economic and environmental consequences of their activities.
By the way, I visited the website of Arcelor Mittal and there is no mention of “environment” in the “philosophy” of the company…link :

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12 comments on “ARCELOR MITTAL : Corporate social responsability / Sustainable development ???
  1. louise-anne says:

    in fact :
    CSR is an sort of obligation, and a “marketing” attitude, whereas SD is a real strategic choice, and an investment for the future.
    –> other ideas to understand differences between CSR and SD ??

  2. Michael says:

    I agree that our speakers today were confusing CSR and SD, however, prior to taking this class dedicated to the topic, I was confused also. In my opinion, the real concern caused by this error is that when real SD opportunities present themselves to the Mittal employees in the future, they may be ‘lumped in’ with their previous CSR efforts and be immediately considered cost inefficient.

  3. Pascal Bessette says:

    Here my comment about this e-mail :
    After this morning’s company visit, I think most companies mix sustainable development (SD) with corporate social responsibility (CSR). During the presentation, the representatives of ArcelorMittal said health and safety are primary objectives in their sustainable development plan. For me, this is not related to SD.
    SD is more about “balancing the fulfillment of human needs with the protection of the natural environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but in the indefinite future”1.
    CSR “is a concept that organizations, especially (but not only) corporations, have an obligation to consider the interests of customers, employees, shareholders, communities, and ecological considerations in all aspects of their operations”2.
    I think organizations need to be more educated about SD because they tend to confound it with CSR. For me, there is a major difference between SD and CSR because the first is really focused on the environment and the second is more focused on stakeholders. Therefore, organizations following the path of CSR won’t necessarily focus on recycling, decreasing energy consumption and CO2 emissions if that are not profitable for their consumers and shareholders.
    Like I said already, worldwide organizations need to be more educated about what really sustainable development is and all governments have to be more involved to ensure that everybody will follow the path of SD instead of CSR!

  4. Barry says:

    Agree with you both – but Michael, if you are employeed as VP of Sustainable Development, surely you would make it your role in life to work out what you stand for, and to make sure your employees in your division do also. It was very confusing, and rather sad, but we couldn’t go too hard or otherwise they wont allow students back ;-).
    In terms of their performance on safety records, the below snapshot provides some sad reading:
    Mittal Global: UK union attacks Mittal over Kazakh safety
    Arcelor Mittal’s safety performance at its Kazakhstan coalmines is a stain on the UK, one of Britain’s leading trade unions has said. The condemnation from Unite came after revelations that 90 miners had been killed in Mittal’s operations in Kazakhstan since 2004.
    The Times • The Sunday Times
    Hazards news , 16 June 2007
    In addition, the article attached (sorry, not sure how to make a link in the comment field), makes it clear what Mittalk considers to be important – and its not the enviornment per se, but rather what they need to do to tap into reserves currently located under forests in the various Indian states (ie reloaction of villages etc).
    Not very Sustainable I think.
    Barry + Aldo

  5. Leslie says:

    I totally agree what was said by Louise-Anne,Michael and Pascal. Companies have to be educated on the topic to understand that SD is totaly different than “helping an artist”!!
    It is all the sadder than ArcelorMittal trully tries to do things for environment!
    I don’t know if you saw it during the visit but the figures were good : recycling, sorting…
    I went on their webesite and I found that they signed an “Environmental Charter” to impose objectives to the company:
    So sad that the 2 ladies of this morning did not talk to us about this!

  6. aisling says:

    Hi Everyone! I just found this conference paper ( which I thought might be of interest to you because it attempts to differentiate between Sustainable Development and Corporate Social Responsibility.
    I think this article is quite interesting because it examines a selection of papers (43 to be exact) that have discussed SD and CSR between 1998 and 2006 in attempt to understand definitions of the two terms and to understand the relationship between the two concepts.
    The main findings highlight that these terms need to be used differently to avoid misunderstandings, which supports your comment Pascal.
    I agree with everyone that unfortunately companies do seem to get these concepts mixed up (This morning being a prime example) and what I think confuses the situation even more is the amount of academic definitions that have been established for SD. I think Jeremy mentioned that in our very first class that there were over 50?
    I think maybe establishing a universally accepted definition of the concept would be one step towards resolving the conflict between Sustainable Development and Social Corporate Responsibility.

  7. genevieve says:

    I agree with previous comments that we should invite the two ladies of this morning to our class. I agree with Barry and Aldo: when you are in charge of a section of the company, your first priority should be to get really well informed about your subject.
    From the different answers we got, I did not feel they had concrete examples of what they do in their day-to-day business to make sure the environment is protected as much as possible.
    I would also add a cultural aspect to our discussion: I wonder how they would rate themselves on a scale from 1 to 10. As we saw on Monday, different countries are at different levels of implementation of SD and corporate social responsibility. Depending with whom someone compare himself, the self-evaluation could be different…

  8. JM says:

    For those entrepreneurial like at heart…here is a business opportunity… take the Gore movie, a couple more courses on the subject and get on the road…the masses need education!!!!…this is absolutely inexcusable that a Director of SD is only concerned by Health and Safety of the company…this is only one component of the Triple Bottom line…of course an important one otherwise the company would have to close shop…but then again they may have to close shop anyway when government’s finally institute laws forcing companies such as Mittal to release its negative footprint on the environment!!!

  9. Ashley says:

    I also agree with your statements that the company seems to have SD & CSR conveniently intertwined so that they can “CYA” in presentations such as ours.
    They can say that they’ve addressed SD…although they do not have any specific call to action plan in place. In addition, the river next to there building is green (which someone mentioned might be a result of acid waste… as the color green was “un-natural.”
    I think our facilitator today was a great public relations / marketer that was able to fend off our environmental questions without straight out lying to us.
    Perhaps we should craft a follow up letter with our concerns and email it to her through Natalie…. or to the offices direct!
    any thoughts????????

  10. Thush says:

    Ashley, count me in for writing to Arcelor Mittal (AM). I had a very high estimation of the organisation prior to todays visit as i had a friend who works there and has a lot of good things to say about it. Expected a company of such stature to give more thought and importance to the environment.
    However,although it was mentioned in the presentation today that AM is a LEADER in everything they do(which i thought was a very vague and broad statement), i felt that they really were not too bothered about sustainable development and the environment. I came across a short and intresting article that talks about the pollution and its consequences brought about by AM in Cleveland. Here the link, its worth read. It has some mind boggling statistics! (It refers to Mittal though, before the merger with arcelor.)

  11. adam says:

    Below is AM’s Sustainable Dev’t vision taken from their website “verbatim”. WOW – hmmmm….to deliver the products our customers want and create sustainable value????? Sounds like they are still talking about shareholder value and just can’t think beyond this and hence apparent in their crappy vision statement!!!
    Vision & Commitment
    ArcelorMittal is committed to Sustainable Development. That means building a stable, global institution – one with the resources to deliver the products our customers want and create sustainable value for all our stakeholders, including the communities in which we operate.

  12. Barry says:

    Finally…. guys, if you look at their website now (as everyone has no doubt done for the assignment), you will see they added their ‘enviornmental policy’ (10 point plan). It doesn’t go anywhere near addressing the issues of sustainable development. A question I have, how can someone be appointed into into a role as VP of SD, if they don’t know what they are trying to achieve. Looks like greenwashing, especially when examining just what ISO14001 does, and doesn’t mean ;-).
    Do we cut Arcelor some slack for merging with an environmental vandal? Perhaps this is a good thing – maybe Arcelor can raise the standards of Mittal and reverse the damage done by the firm in the past? or maybe wishful thinking on my part.
    The email for the cute PR girl is
    Its been fun….
    best of luck with all your future endeavours – and please lets see some cirulcation of photos (appropriate of course, although I wouldn’t mind the unedited one from marketing class last week).

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