Diversity in Aperam

The steel industry of today has changed greatly from the days when recruitment was limited to men. As a result, we now have more women in the workforce, including some leading production lines at our Genk melting shop in Belgium and at our two largest rolling mill tools in France. Because Aperam sees value in a diverse workforce, we are keen to attract the very best talent, regardless of age, gender, national origin or disabilities.

> Women only make up 12% of our staff: 6% of operators but 20% of global exempts, and 21% of 2019’s joiners (vs. only 13% in 2018)! We participate in job fairs to promote the industry and the feminisation of our fields of activity (eg. in France: ‘Semaine de la mixité’, ‘Forum des métiers au féminin’). Still, despite our best efforts, recruiting women remains difficult as few apply, especially in Europe. However, it must be noted that some units report a better rate, such as S&S Brazil (over 20% in Campinas), who state that this higher level of female employees is a driving factor behind their excellent safety and efficiency levels (see Sandra’s testimony on the right), and our Luxembourg Headquarters, which boast the best score with 45% of all employees being female.

In 2018, we launch a specific company-wide program. Among its first actions was a self-assessment using the United Nations’ Women Empowerment Principles benchmarking tool. The outcome of this assessment was then used to help structure a subsequent company-wide action plan. The aim of this plan is twofold. Firstly, it aims to ensure that our female employees are treated fairly, with an emphasis on fighting stereotypes and taking specific, female-focused measures regarding ergonomics, work environment, career development etc. The second objective is to increase the number of women working at Aperam by recruiting women at all levels of the company, from the traditionally male-dominated shopfloor up to the management level.
One of the first outcomes was the development of a specific Gender Diversity Charter using a 5-dimensional working plan to summarize our management’s strong commitment. Specific actions included ensuring the readiness of all plants (showers, work clothes, ergonomics of the workshops), regardless of whether or not females were working on the shopfloor. Another action point aims to ensure there is a diverse representation of men and women in the company’s internal and external communications, for hiring as well as for other purposes. We also added a monthly focus to our internal newsletter asking both male and female professionals for their thoughts on how to succeed within the Company and how to best close any remaining gap between the career opportunities available to men and women. Lastly, a training about stereotypes is being widely rolled-out. 

> Regarding people with disabilities, several of our sites have undertaken special programs to promote inclusiveness, diversity and equal opportunities and to ensure that everybody is recognised for what they bring to the company. For instance, our Timoteo unit in Brazil launched a specific process for recruiting people with disabilities. This hiring process was combined with a range of actions aimed at increasing awareness among our employees about the benefits of inclusiveness and the many different ways everyone can contribute to Aperam’s success. To ensure a smooth onboarding process, specific care was taken to ensure teams were fully prepared to include people with disabilities and to help walk them through our routines and procedures.

> Because of our global composition, diversity at Aperam is often defined by language and culture. We have four main official languages: English, Dutch, French and Portuguese, and all corporate communications are dispatched in multiple language versions. In fact, many of our official communications, such as our Health & Safety campaigns, our Compliance posters (see left) and, more recently, our Anti-Corruption campaign, are translated in up to 10 languages! In addition, site management are encouraged to use the local language of the workers, thus ensuring that proximity is not an empty word. That being said, in order to boost creativity, at times we do utilise positive discrimination. For example, when several profiles match, sometime we will opt for the local profile, while other times we will go with a new nationality in hopes that they will bring different ideas to the teams they join. In other words, we take a multi-­criteria approach to diversity, one that is tailored to our ingenuity credo.