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"Our Strength is People"


At Dominion Foundry and Steel Company (Dofasco), management respects its employees as individuals, recognizes them for their contribution and encourages a sense of worker involvement in the enterprise.

This is how Paul Phoenix, president of Dofasco, explained his company's approach at a luncheon meeting hosted by the Profit Sharing Council of Canada on April 3. Dofasco, he explained, has learned from experience that workers as well as management want more out of their jobs than money; they want to make a contribution, get recognition for doing so, and have the opportunity to grow and to feel like they are participants in the success of the organization.

According to Mr. Phoenix, Dofasco's profit sharing plan is a way of expressing the company's respect for the role played by its employees, as well as part of management's policy of being forthright about the company's fortunes. Profit sharing at Dofasco is in addition to a wage and salary/benefit package that is fully competitive with the industry. All employees who have been with the company for three years or more, whether they are apprentices or senior management, share equally eleven per cent of Dofasco's pre-tax steelmaking profit. That amounted to $2,168 for each employee in 1985. Of that amount, $600 went into each employee's retirement fund, and each employee contributed another $200. This means, for example, that a 30-year veteran could have accumulated $150,000 in his retirement fund.

Employees are also encouraged to take part in a suggestion award program, Mr. Phoenix explained. Last year alone, almost 5,000 ideas were submitted, and employees whose ideas were successfully implemented received awards totalling more than $400,000. The company deliberately encourages a sense of teamwork and achievement through, for example, its support of almost 50 different employee recreation programs. Dofasco's policy of promoting from within the company, rather than bringing in outside people to fill positions, contributes to the feeling among employees that their contribution is important. Dofasco has also implemented an apprenticeship program which combines hands-on experience with classroom studies, and 9796 of graduates have stayed with the company. As the steel industry changes rapidly, the company must constantly update its facilities and the skills of its employees, and Dofasco expects to invest some $1.8 billion over the next decade for these purposes.

There is no doubt that Dofasco is a company with a difference. Everyone must have heard at one time or another its very clever advertising slogan: "Our product is steel, our strength is people." As Mr. Phoenix tried to show his attentive audience, his company works hard at treating people as human beings while making the best possible product.