Annual Report 2017 - Sustainability

Sustainability

Our Company Values distinguish us and guide our actions. We conduct business in a socially responsible and ethical manner. To us, sustainability is about economic success, about the safety and development of our employees, about lasting relationships with our business partners, and about environmental stewardship and social progress. This way, Bekaert translates sustainability into a benefit for all stakeholders.

Bekaert’s global sustainability strategy is centered on four main pillars: our responsibility in the workplace, in the marketplace, towards the environment and towards society. Our sustainability efforts and activities are focused in such a way that balanced consideration is given to the interests of all respective stakeholders, including employees, customers, shareholders, partners, local governments and the communities in which we are active.

 
Sustainability standards

Bekaert’s Sustainability Report 2017 was conducted based on the GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards, Core option. Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is a non-profit organization that promotes economic, environmental and social sustainability. Bekaert’s responsible performance in 2017 has also been recognized by its inclusion in the Ethibel Excellence Index (ESI) Europe - a reference benchmark for top performers interms of corporate social responsibility based on Vigeo’s research - as well as in Kempen SRI. 

In 2017, Bekaert was awarded a gold recognition level from Ecovadis, an independent sustainability rating agency whose methodology is built on international CSR standards.

In response to growing interest throughout the supply chain to report on the carbon footprint of operations and logistics, Bekaert also participates in the Climate Change and Supply Chain questionnaires of CDP (formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project).

Monitoring and reporting scope

The sustainability actions and respective indices and certificates cover the wholly and majority owned subsidiaries of the NV Bekaert SA. This includes the subsidiaries of the Bridon-Bekaert Ropes Group, unless otherwise indicated. 

More detailed information and targets for the future can be found in the Bekaert group-wide sustainability report 2017-2018.

Our employees

As a company and as individuals, we act with integrity and commit to the highest standards of business ethics. We promote equal opportunity, foster diversity and we create a no-harm-to-anyone work environment across our organization.

Our values are ingrained in our culture and connect us all as One Bekaert team.

We act with integrity · We earn trust · We are irrepressible!

Embracing diversity

At Bekaert, we believe in working together to achieve better performance. As a truly global company we embrace diversity across all levels in the organization which is a major source of strength for our company. This applies to diversity in terms of nationality, cultural background, age or gender, but also in terms of capabilities, business experience, insights and views.

The Bekaert population counts about 50 nationalities and employment in 40 countries around the world. This nationality diversity is mirrored in all levels of the organization as well as in the composition of the Board of Directors.


Nationality diversity (31 December 2017) # people # nationalities # non-native* % non-native
Board of Directors 15
4
6 40%
Bekaert Group Executive (BGE) 9
4
3
33% 
Senior Vice Presidents 16 7 6 38%
Next leadership level (**) 87 17 39 45%
Total Leadership Team 112 19 48 43%
(*) non-native definition = other nationality than the one of the mother company’s social seat (i.e.Belgium)
(**) Next leadership level = B13 and above managers excluding BGE and Senior Vice Presidents (Hay classification reference)


The manufacturing character of Bekaert’s operations clarify a predominantly male population, particularly among operators and white collar technicians. 

Gender diversity # people % male % female
Operators 21 750
95% 5%
White collars 5 895
71% 29%
Management 1 668 82% 18%
Total Bekaert employees 29 313 89% 11%

Bekaert is developing a recruitment and promotion policy which is aimed at gradually driving more diversity, including gender diversity.

Gender diversity in the Board of Directors and in the Top Leadership Team of Bekaert:
Gender diversity (31 December 2017) # people % male % female
Board of Directors 15 67% 33%
Bekaert Group Executive (BGE) 9 78% 22%
Senior & next leadership level (*) 74 76% 24%
Total Leadership Team 83 76% 24%
(*) Senior Vice Presidents and B13 and above managers (Hay classification reference) excluding BGE

Age diversity in Bekaert's highest governance bodies: 
Age diversity (31 December 2017) # people 30-50 years old over 50 years old
Board of Directors 15 20% 80%
Bekaert Group Executive (BGE) 9 22% 78%
Total highest governance bodies 24 21% 79%

Respecting human rights

Bekaert is firmly committed to complying with national legislations and collective labor agreements.
Bekaert adheres to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the treaties and recommendations of the International Labor Organization.

We are committed to respect the rights and dignity of each employee. We promote equal opportunity and do not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment on the basis of age, race, nationality, social or ethnic descent, gender, physical disability, sexual preference, religion, political preference, or union membership. We recognize and appreciate the cultural identity of our teams in all countries in which we operate and do business.

The recruitment, remuneration, application of employment conditions, training, promotion and career development of our employees are based on professional qualifications only.
Learning and development

We champion talent nurturing through career development and life-long learning. We attach great importance to providing challenging career and personal development opportunities to our employees. Training programs not only include technical and function specific training, but also leadership modules that help our people develop and cooperate in a global business environment. 

In 2017 we further expanded our offerings on our online Learning & Development portal and we continued the access roll-out to white collars. The portal now also enables to keep track of the long-term personal development actions and opportunities. It provides an overview of all available trainings, both traditional classroom courses and e-learning modules, and allows employees to request external trainings as well.


Also in 2017, Bekaert established Bekaert University. This ‘University’ will be home to different Academies which will accelerate and  sustain the transformation progress the company is making. Bekaert University will be a best-in-class learning & engagement platform for all people and teams globally.
The university and academy concept builds further on the success of Bekaert’s excellence programs, which lays not only in the respective program tools and approach, but also in the explicit engagement of our teams around the world. 
Employee related data
  • On average 50 hours of training per employee took place in 2017(1).
  • Percentage of employees who received a performance review in 2017(1):
Bekaert_PRD2017
(1) Excluding BBRG. Bridon-Bekaert Ropes Group is in process of implementing similar reporting data.

Health and safety

Fatal accidents

The Bekaert management and employees deeply regret the loss of two colleagues who passed away because of accidents while they were at work. The accidents happened in our plants in Sumaré (Brazil) and Prodac (Peru).

Thorough investigations were conducted to understand what happened and to prevent any further casualties at the workplace.

We will remember our colleagues and ensure that their deaths push us to make faster and deeper improvements to our safety culture and behavior. Eliminating risks from our business is one of the objectives of BeCare, our global safety excellence program.
BeCare: no harm to anyone @Bekaert

In 2017, we further rolled out BeCare, our global safety excellence program that was launched in 2016. BeCare aims at creating a no-harm, risk-free working environment for all our employees and for anyone working at or visiting our premises. During an intensive training period, employees acquaint with an elaborate set of safety best practices, learn to spot and deal with unsafe situations and know how to contribute to creating a caring environment. 

BeCare starts to change behavior in our plants and offices and in our meetings with our business partners.

The Orrville plant (Ohio, US) had a relatively weak safety performance in the past years. Upon implementing BeCare, everything changed. The plant recently celebrated 1 year without accidents that require medical service or result in lost days. In the Lipetsk plant (Russia), our employees really took on the BeCare techniques and culture and consider it a boost to raise the already high degree of enthusiasm and engagement at the plant.   
 
A healthy workplace

Because we also attach great importance to a healthy working environment, we continued to invest in automated handling equipment and other workplace ergonomics in 2017. 

Special attention is also given to the handling and storage of chemicals. A central database records all chemicals used in our plants and strict health and safety guidelines apply for our employees. 

We monitor workplace conditions such as noise, dust and temperature and are defining a roadmap to make further improvements wherever necessary. 
International Health and Safety Week

In 2017 Bekaert organized its 10th International Health & Safety Week. All plants worldwide take part in this annual event. The central theme for this year was  “I care – You care – We BeCare” and was obviously centered around the global safety program BeCare. Bekaert plants worldwide were encouraged to share their best practices and learn from each other. 
Safety related data

Bekaert has a group-wide OHSAS 18001 certificate. In 2017, about 60% of all Bekaert employees were covered by this standard. 

On average 10 training hours per employee were related to safety in 2017.

Our safety performance was not good in 2017. First and above all, because we suffered the loss of two colleagues. In addition, both the lost time incident frequency rate and the severity index increased, compared to 2016. One of the effects of BeCare is much stricter adherence to reporting accuracy and compliance, but that is not a reason for increased safety incidents and risks.

Total Recordable Injury Rate (TRIR) Bekaert Combined (1)

TRIR Bekaert Group 2017 
(1) BBRG and joint ventures included
TRIR = total number of recordable injuries per million worked hours.



Lost Time Incident Frequency Rate (LTIFR) Bekaert Consolidated Plants (1)

Bekaert LTIFR Consoidated 2017

(1) BBRG included
LTIFR = number of lost time accidents (LTA) per million worked hours.

Severity Index (SI) Bekaert Consolidated Plants (1)
 

Bekaert SI Consolidated 2017

(1) BBRG included
SI = number of lost days due to occupational accidents per thousand worked hours.

Safety champions in consolidated plants

In 2017, two plants achieved more than 5 years without recordable safety incidents. Three plants achieved 4 years without recordable safety incidents; four others achieved more than 2 years without recordable safety incidents and 19 plants were more than one year incident-free.

Almost 30 plants have thus proven that it is possible to make Bekaert a safe place to work.

Our responsibility in the market place

better together in the communities where we are active

Bekaert strives to be a loyal and responsible partner in the communities where we are active. We interact with the local governments in a transparent, constructive way. We do not support political institutions and in all our communications, we adopt a neutral position with respect to political issues. We are firmly committed to complying with national legislations and collective labor agreements. Bekaert adheres to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the treaties and recommendations of the International Labor Organization.

better together with our customers and suppliers

Bekaert has production facilities and sales offices in 40 countries and builds lasting relationships with customers and suppliers, wherever we do business.  We work closely with customers and suppliers by engaging in co-development projects, by conducting feedback initiatives and satisfaction surveys, and by performing industry analyses together.
Supporting our customers’ sustainability programs

We actively cooperate with global customers in sustainability initiatives. We support our customers’ sustainability programs by implementing specific actions in our respective policies and by joining sustainability initiatives and standards to accommodate their priorities. Acting as a socially and environmentally responsible supplier helps our customers achieve their sustainability targets.

Building a sustainable supply chain

Bekaert’s purchasing department continued its engagement to enhance sustainability awareness and control with our suppliers. The Bekaert Supplier Code of Conduct outlines environmental, labor and governance related requirements that suppliers shall comply with (or deliver proof of following its principles). At the end of 2017 this supplier commitment represented 82% of spend coverage, compared with 75% in 2016. 

All wire rod suppliers as well as suppliers of other critical materials are formally evaluated on a yearly base, and corrective action plans are put in place when the minimum required levels have not been reached. These action plans are closely monitored in order to keep the focus on improvement high.

Responsible sourcing of minerals

Bekaert recognizes the importance of responsible sourcing. In 2017, all suppliers covered by the Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI), formerly known as Conflict Free Sourcing Initiative (CFSI), signed the Bekaert Supplier Code of Conduct (or delivered proof of following its principles) and 100% of our tin suppliers completed the most recent Conflict Minerals Reporting Template (CMRT). This is an initiative of the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA), formerly known as the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC), and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSi), that help companies from a range of industries address conflict mineral issues in their supply chain. Bekaert also implemented, published and distributed a Conflict Free Minerals policy. 

Anti-corruption policies and procedures

All Bekaert employees receive the “Bekaert Code of Conduct” upon entering the company. This document includes the Bekaert anti-corruption policy & procedures. All managers and all white collars are required to renew their commitment to the Bekaert Code of Conduct annually and to pass a test on business ethics cases.

The Code has also been integrated in all new labor contracts for white and blue collars worldwide.

Particular training programs on the Code of Conduct and on anti-corruption and anti-bribery policies are also provided to functional groups (e.g. the purchasing function). In addition, the Group Internal Audit department regularly audits the adherence to the respective policies and procedures, and recommends corrective actions where necessary. All policies are available on the Bekaert Intranet.
 

Our responsibility towards the environment

We continuously strive to develop processes that use less material, cut energy consumption and reduce waste. 

Our concern for the environment is applied in 3 domains:
  • develop new, eco-friendlier production processes for our plants worldwide
  • prevention and risk management
  • the development of products that contribute to a cleaner environment

1. Develop eco-friendlier production processes for our plants worldwide

In the first domain, our ambition is to develop eco-friendlier production processes for our plants worldwide. We do this by implementing worldwide initiatives that aim to reduce energy consumption and CO2 exhaust on the one hand, and by installing energy-efficient infrastructure in all our new plants.

  • Since 2015, Bekaert is running the Bekaert Manufacturing Systen (BMS), a transformation program focused on manufacturing excellence, including energy reduction measures. Although our energy consumption increased compared to 2016 because of an increase in total tonnage produced and a change in the product-mix, we were able to limit the increase in energy consumption. Thanks to BMS we achieved an annual recurrent saving of 249 Gwh. This program is not 100% implemented yet, so we aim to increase the annual energy savings even further.
  • Bekaert wins ener.CON Europe Award 2018 for energy saving achievements
    In March 2018, Bekaert won the ener.CON Europe Award 2018 for the energy savings achieved through the Bekaert Manufacturing System. From 30 filings, an expert committee selected Bekaert and two other nominees to present their projects during the ener.CON Conference in Berlin. One of our BMS representatives held a powerful and convincing pitch in which he clearly explained what impact our BMS approach had and will continue to have on energy savings. Not only the energy and environment professionals from ener.CON recognized the power of this approach:  more than half of the 200 industry experts in the audience voted Bekaert the winner of the 2018 award.

     

  • The energy intensity ratio decreased versus our reference year 2015, both for electrical and thermal energy.
  • The LED program replacing all traditional lighting by LED lights in production areas worldwide was completed in 2017. We achieved annual energy reduction savings of 87 GWh (50% of the energy used for lighting) as a result of this program. We will continue the LED light program in all new buildings and plants.
  • 25% of the electricity needs came from renewable energy sources in 2017.  The success rate in sourcing from renewable energy sources largely depends on the availability of these sources and of data thereon. In Ecuador, to mention one, 100% of Bekaert’s electricity consumption is from hydraulic energy.
  • In our plant in India (Ranjangaon) we completed the installation of a zero liquid discharge water purification system. As a result, all industrial wastewater streams are recycled and reused.  

    Indamper Ranjangaon

    The last treatment step of the zero liquid discharge water treatment consists of an evaporator which converts the wastewater in solid waste and clean distillate which can be recuperated in the process.
  • In September 2017, 30 Bekaert managers and consultants spent 2 days in the Aachen (Germany) Digital Capability Center a joint venture between Mc Kinsey & Company, ITA Academy Ltd and leading technology companies, to discuss the ‘plant of the future’ challenges and opportunities. On the agenda:
    • Safety
    • Health
    • Robotics
    • Environment
    • Our responsibility as an employer and as a supplier

2. Prevention and risk management play an important role in Bekaert's environmental policy

Prevention and risk management play an important role in Bekaert’s environmental policy. This includes measures against soil and ground water contamination, responsible use of water and worldwide ISO14001 certification.
  • In the course of 2017, Bekaert’s global procedure to ensure precautionary measures against soil and ground water contamination (ProSoil) was further fine-tuned with a list of concrete action plans that guarantee a “first time right” approach. This helps us to improve our risk analysis and priority setting. 
  • Responsible use of water is also an ongoing priority. We constantly monitor our water consumption and have implemented programs that aim to reduce water usage in the long term.
  • In 2017, 95% of the Bekaert plants worldwide were ISO 14001 certified. ISO 14001 is part of the ISO 14000 internationally recognized standards providing practical tools to companies who wish to manage their environmental responsibilities. ISO 14001 focuses on environmental systems. Bekaert’s full worldwide certification is an ongoing goal; it is an element in the integration process of newly acquired entities and of companies that are added to the consolidation perimeter. Bekaert also received a group-wide certification for ISO 14001 and ISO 9001. The ISO 9000 family addresses various aspects of quality management.
  • Bekaert complies to the European RoHS regulation on hazardous substances. 

3. We develop products that contribute to a cleaner environment

At Bekaert we develop products that contribute to a cleaner environment. Ecology is an aspect that is already considered during the R&D phase of new products. In many cases, it is even a driving factor in product development. 

Some examples:
  • Bekaert’s super-tensile and ultra-tensile steel cord ranges for tire reinforcement allow tire makers to produce tires with a lower weight, thinner plies, and lower rolling resistance. This revolution enables a 15% reduction of the total tire weight, thereby decreasing the CO2 emissions of a vehicle by 250kg or a global reduction by  850 million kg of CO2 per year.

  • Bekaert tire cord innovations earn recognition from CRIA
    China Rubber Industry Association (CRIA) granted the Bekaert China team a Contribution Award for their great efforts in supporting the CRIA Green Tire Week initiative. CRIA appreciated Bekaert’s commitment to develop lighter, stronger and better tire cords for a greener tire, which is believed to be of substantial support to the industry to develop and promote greener tires. 

  • Bekaert successfully developed a 3rd generation sawing wire technology and product. Sawing wire allows manufacturers in the photovoltaic industry to cut polysilicon ingots into wafers for the production of solar cells with a minimum loss of material. The diamond wire, developed by the sawing wire R&D team in China, has been tested and approved by all targeted customers.

Helping the Belgian Solar Team win the bronze medal in the 2017 World Solar Challenge 
In October 2017 the engineering students of the Belgian Solar Team won bronze in the 3 000 km long World Solar Challenge in Australia. The skillful navigation of the solar car was one of the critical elements in this successful race and was made possible by an advanced cord in the steering module. The solar team was looking for a lightweight solution where every gram counts. The Bridon-Bekaert advanced cords plant of Aalter (Belgium) provided a compact 2.8mm diameter cord that allows inducing more than 700 kilo of force on the axles, right down Bridon-Bekaert’s alley of high-strength advanced cord technologies.

Education projects form the backbone of Bekaert’s social funding and other community-building activities. In addition, we support local activities and projects for social, cultural and economic development, as well as for disaster relief.

Supporting educational and training initiatives

We believe that education and learning is the key to a sustainable future. Accordingly, we support initiatives worldwide that focus on helping the communities we are active in through education and learning.

In China, Bekaert has built strong relationships with various schools. Volunteers from the Bekaert Technology Research & Development Center went to Jiangyin Chenguang Primary School to give a first-aid training in March 2017. Students learned how to perform life-saving measures such as CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) and AED (Automated External Defibrillator). A standard emergency procedure was also introduced during the training. 

In Brazil, our joint ventures participated in the Youth Entrepreneurship project, a program that prepares young people in taking their first steps into the job market. 30 employees volunteered to teach low-income youth how to improve their professional skills. 324 students have participated in this future-building initiative. 
 
Also in Brazil, 630 students participated in the science education program that was set up in 2016. The goal is to create interest in science and awareness for the environment. 

In North America, Bekaert supports the FFA, Future Farmers of America. This is a nationally recognized program that offers agricultural education, career opportunities and leadership development to 649 355 student members. We express our commitment to this initiative by giving agriculture-related trainings and by offering sponsorships. 

The International Children's Day was celebrated in several of our plants and offices. Colleagues from our plant in Slovakia attended a celebration event in the Children´s Centre Hrajkovo. They assisted in the activities of the daycare center. 

In China Bekaert has a long-term collaboration with the Shanghai Pudong Lianying Primary school. Bekaert colleagues donated new reading books to the school library on the occasion of Children's Day. 

Supporting social community initiatives

We support local activities and projects for social, cultural and economic development that aim to improve societal conditions in the places where we are active, among others through health initiatives and disaster relief.

In the past years, several parts of the world have been confronted with various natural disasters. We try to contribute to the affected regions by providing building material, food and financial help, especially when communities are hit where we are active. 

When the Manabí region in Ecuador was struck with a devastating earthquake in April 2016, the IdealAlambrec-Bekaert plant was contracted by the Government as the primary business partner in a major housing reconstruction program. Right after the earthquake, Bekaert Latin America together with the IdealAlambrec-Bekaert plant in Quito donated 10 houses to affected families in the area. In 2017 we made a second donation, reaffirming our commitment to continue working to rebuild the Manabí region. The donated homes are built in line with the Ecuadorian construction regulations regarding earthquake resistance. The construction works were performed by local builders and technicians, contributing to the employment in and the development of the province.

The southern states of the United States suffered under the devastating hurricane Harvey in August 2017. The Bekaert plant in Van Buren collected and donated money to families who lost their homes.  
In the beginning of 2017, Chili was in a state of emergency for several weeks. Wildfires raged through the southern and central part of the country and burned down houses, livestock and even entire villages. The Inchalam-Bekaert plant gathered forces to support families who lost their house. Food and water were provided and Inchalam-Bekaert donated material for the reconstruction of the houses in cooperation with NGO Techo Chile.

The Inchalam-Bekaert plant also participates actively in Mesa Empresa, an initiative that supports collaborations between companies and the local community. Their aim is to improve the life quality of people by organizing activities related to culture, environment, health, training, and recreation. In 2017, Inchalam-Bekaert collaborated among others in sports activities and a clean-up initiative to celebrate World Environment Day.

The Marietta sales team in the United States has built a sensory playground for children with special needs in the Moultrie, Georgia community. This project was a collaboration with local social organizations who offer help to children with disabilities.

All over the world, Bekaert supports local health initiatives. 

  • In our plants in Zwevegem (Belgium) and Proalco (Colombia) for example, colleagues organized a blood donation for the blood banks of the national medical services. 
  • The program Ver e Viver (Seeing and living) in Brazil provides vision tests and glasses to students of municipal schools. Thanks to our Brazilian joint ventures, 4 295 students benefited from a vision test in 2017 and 256 glasses were donated.