|POSCO's Seoul headquarters / Korea Times file|
By Yi Whan-woo
POSCO has received the highest grade in an annual evaluation of large businesses based on their efforts to seek joint prosperity with smaller firms.
POSCO said Wednesday it was rated "Excellent" in the Win-Win Growth Index released earlier the same day by the National Commission for Corporate Partnership (NCCP), a government-affiliated organization.
A total of 198 companies were subject to evaluation during the NCCP's 67th meeting. POSCO was among 36 firms that had the highest score.
"We believe our efforts for corporate culture based on objectivity and transparency have been highly appreciated, along with innovative ways of support for our business partners and a wide range of activities aimed at tackling social and environmental issues," POSCO said in a press release.
The nation's largest steelmaker's shared growth activities have targeted primary suppliers, partner companies and clients, as well as secondary suppliers and companies that have no direct business with POSCO.
In particular, POSCO noted it raised 100 billion won ($85.6 million) jointly with Hyundai Steel in 2020 to help finance small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
The fund offers a loan rate that is 1.05 percent points lower than the market, providing practical support to companies that are struggling with liquidity.
POSCO also spent 20 billion won over the past five years for a program designed to boost the production capacity of SMEs.
More than 460 SMEs benefited from consulting services and the establishment of manufacturing facilities using Internet of Things, big data and other cutting-edge technologies that were made available through POSCO's program.
Through its corporate social responsibility program, POSCO donated hygiene equipment to small business owners in the vicinity of its operation areas to better cope with the pandemic while purchasing large amounts of goods from pandemic-stricken traditional markets.
To help the SMEs enhance management based on environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) standards ― a buzzword for global businesses ― POSCO launched a committee consisting of ESG-related consultants this year.
Seven SMEs benefited from consulting services in the first half, and up to 12 others are expected to receive support.
NCCP has been announcing the Win-Win Growth Index since 2011.
The index is based on the NCCP's comprehensive evaluation of shared growth as well as the Fair Trade Commission's evaluation of fair trade implementation.
The companies subject to the index evaluation include those that are among the top companies in domestic sales and are receiving a high level of social interest from the public.