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Stories by Hydro

Meet Rebeca Gonzalez Abad – Her views on the employment reality in the aluminium industry

“There is resistance, but nothing more. This is not a war between man and woman,” says Rebeca Gonzalez Abad, speaking about opportunity in the aluminium industry.

Rebeca knows aluminium, she has worked in the industry since 2007, and she knows the people who work with aluminium. Of course, she knows a lot more than that, as the only person in a company with more than 32,000 employees who is responsible as a leader of both the Legal and HR areas for a multi-site manufacturing operation. She does this for Hydro’s aluminium extrusion business in Iberia, representing a team of around 700 people.

How do you balance your work as leader for both the Legal and HR functions?

I am influenced by the fact that I spent a lot of time with my grandpa and my grandpa knew that managers at a factory need to take care of everything, not only the technical aspects. And that the people are the organization. I was very influenced by that. I like people and I need to feel that the people around me are happy. This motivates me and focuses me on the task. I am a very task driven person. I need to see the objectives and the goals for them, and I have the tools and all the resources I need to reach the objectives. And this is what represents the most motivation for me.

The percentage of women in your workplace has jumped from 18 percent to 31 percent in just a few years. How?

The first thing that we did was speak with all of our external suppliers. And we received a lot of surprises. For example, the first time I had a meeting with our temporary employment agency, the woman told me she was sorry, that she believed I only wanted men. Now, when we subcontract our recruitment process, we say that we need to have final candidates representing both genders. It's mandatory. The second thing is that we made a lot of promotional material with our women workers, saying that everything is possible.

To me, diversity is a question of leadership. We show videos every month about gender diversity and we spend hours on awareness training, on all management levels, to help the understanding. You know, not all people receive the same education and have the same values that you have. Sometimes it's part of the culture, sometimes it is part of the experience in life. And you need to respect that. It's not fighting, it's understanding that we are in a new reality and we are equal. There can be resistance that this is the new normal, but nothing more. We have to be a company that gives exactly the same opportunities to both genders.

What do you need personally, to want to remain in the company?

Yes, it is not just about recruiting women, it is also about retaining them. Can I reach my goals here, or do I need to go somewhere else? The things that keep me linked to this company is that I have a fantastic relationship in my day-to-day with my colleagues and with my boss. That I have ownership of my responsibilities. That I have the freedom to take decisions and my boss supports me and my decisions. That I feel I have autonomy and I have a purpose. I feel good. I am motivated to wake up every morning to go to work. I receive offers from other companies, but getting a little more money is not worth the risk of losing what I have.

Why should a woman want to work for Hydro in Iberia?

The options in our industrial environment sometimes can be a little bit scary for women, because they may not have ever been given the opportunity. So they might be afraid to try. I do think that sometimes women stop themselves. That it's not a question of pushing a little bit harder, but how do we break that barrier? We need to show that it is possible. Imagining that a particular job is not for a woman is a big mistake. My advice to a woman? Just join us.

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