At a round table dedicated to the specifics and ways of delivering Russian ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) projects of large companies Sergei Grigoriev, Public Relations and Communications Director of SUEK, shared the Company's experience in this area amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
During an online event held by TASS on 26 November, representatives of major Russian companies (SUEK, Severstal, Servier, Rosneft, Arikapital, Sinara Group, Kortros, L'Oreal Russia and others) spoke about their experience in developing ESG projects, their impact on investments, the rules for developing and implementing communication strategies. The underlying motive for the round table was the COVID-19 pandemic, support for local population and medical organisations. One of the key presenters was Sergei Grigoriev, who told how the company had promptly reformatted its social activities during the year.
"Our units are situated mainly in single-industry towns and settlements, and we had to support their uninterrupted operation under the new conditions. We were to look for a variety of methods to interact with both regional and municipal authorities, to focus our employees not only on labour achievements but also on the necessary precautions to prevent an increase in the incidence rate. We have been successfully dealing with this all the time. At the first stage of the pandemic, we faced a whole series of completely new and unexpected challenges. In particular, it was necessary to urgently purchase medical equipment in large enough quantities. These were not only requests from the regions for the purchase of lung ventilators, X-ray units and personal protective equipment, but also the need for relevant equipment for our units. For example, we supplied thermographic cameras to measure the temperature of our employees at the entrance to the buildings. We are purchasing large quantities of personal protective equipment."
Speaking about regional specifics, Sergei Grigoriev noted that "everywhere we act on a case-by-case basis and focus on urgent needs. Some regions did not need medical equipment, but they needed to insure ambulance workers. In Kuzbass, we insured all ambulance crews and drivers against COVID with SOGAZ, which was appreciated by the administration and medical staff."
Sergei Grigoriev praised the volunteer movement at SUEK's plants. "We did not expect so many people to volunteer. What the volunteers have done is amazing; this exemplifies the kind-heartedness of our people."
According to him, SUEK's volunteers studied current demands and promptly provided assistance where necessary. They were able to visit disadvantaged families and find out who needed personal computers for online studies. They connected a number of houses to high-speed Internet. High school students from SUEK's Work Teams acted as online tutors for children during the quarantine, helping them prepare for Basic or Unified State Examination
Out of the all-Russia campaigns initiated or supported by the company, Sergei Grigoriev mentioned #LiftDoctors
(volunteers gave lifts to medical workers who visited their patients); #WriteToDoctor
(miners' children wrote letters of gratitude to doctors); #WeTogether
movement (food delivery to vulnerable people), #BakePieSayThanks
The main thing was the correct focus on the health and well-being of people as the basis for the resiliency and consistent development of the business. This year's performance, with a focus on the safety of SUEK's employees and helping the authorities and doctors in the fight against a common threat, has proven the correctness of the company's ESG-based investments.
With that, SUEK did not abandon traditional social projects but instead chose a new format for most of them. For example, grant competitions for initiative groups of local residents (Comfortable Environment) and for social entrepreneurs (Creation) were held online. The company also offered online assistance to single-industry towns in preparing applications for the Ministry of Construction's competition. Having won this competition, the towns of Myski, Kuibyshev, Borodino, Kansk and Nazarovo raised almost RUB 600 million ($8 million) to improve their social infrastructure. Sergei Grigoriev also emphasised the importance of public-private partnership, when both the state and businesses co-finance urgent social projects, which has an amazing effect, given the social technologies developed by businesses and already proven to be effective.