International Women’s Day: the climate expert in the male domain
Women are still under-represented in many areas of industry - at thyssenkrupp as well. Is anything changing at all? On International Women's Day on March 8th we had a conversation with Sandra Reus. She has been working in "Environmental and Climate Affairs, Sustainability" at thyssenkrupp Steel since 2011. As an expert on climate policy, she analyzes legislative projects and initiatives and what effects they have on the company. Sandra Reus tells how she has mastered the way to her current position.
Climate policy: Working at the pulse of time
A resume in a nutshell: As a young jurist Sandra Reus worked at the chair for European and International Law after she had graduated from the Martin-Luther-University Halle/Saale. Afterwards she worked in several law firms. Then she made her transition to the business world. Here she spent five years as Public Affairs Manager for the thyssenkrupp group in Brussels. Since 2008 she has been working as an expert for climate policy at thyssenkrupp Steel Europe in Duisburg. Sandra Reus has always been fascinated by the subject climate: “None of the other policy areas has a comparably multifaceted scope as climate policy. It affects industry as much as transportation or agriculture and determines the fortunes and disasters of business areas. In times of climate change, we are all directly affected,” she explains. For her it is great to work so close to the pulse of the times and to be able to help shape the current process in climate policy.
“No day is the same as the one before,” says Sandra Reus. “Politics is a very fast-moving business and I’m in touch with all kinds of people on essential things in business life.” This is what makes her work so interesting.
Being part of the first step in the right direction
However, the climate expert is particularly proud to be involved in thyssenkrupp Steel’s climate strategy: “The changes we are now initiating and setting in motion are groundbreaking and enormous. We want to massively reduce our own CO2 emissions and produce steel in a completely climate-neutral way by 2050. In November last year, thyssenkrupp Steel launched the world’s first trial at its Duisburg site to use hydrogen instead of carbon in a blast furnace. “The project represents a completely new process. It is the beginning of hydrogen-based steel production.”
Women are still underrepresented in politics – and other sectors
In order to be able to stand at this point and be involved in such large projects, Sandra Reus had to prove herself for a long time. To this day, women are underrepresented in many areas of work. “I can say from my own experience that, as a woman, one is initially viewed very critically. I first had to prove myself quite a bit before I was taken seriously as a discussion partner by my male colleagues in my own and other industries,” she says.
In the first ten years of her career – especially in the almost six years she represented thyssenkrupp in Brussels, she worked with a handful of women, perhaps. “Political Brussels was then still firmly in the hands of men,” is how Reus describes the situation at the time. But at the Duisburg site things are different: In the department “Environmental and Climate Protection, Sustainability”, where Sandra Reus works, women make up almost 40 percent of the employees.
But what does politics and business have to do to foster equality? If the workplace allows it, flexible working models are particularly important. It is important to support women and men in reconciling family and career, says Sandra Reus. “thyssenkrupp Steel Europe AG has just taken a big step in this direction and adopted a company agreement on mobile working. This path should be pursued systematically. In any case I will make use of this opportunity.”
Compatibility of family and career a necessity in the company
thyssenkrupp is constantly working to increase the proportion of women in the Group from its current level of 15.4 percent: reconciling family and career is therefore a top priority. With services such as the parent-child office, the company’s own daycare center and childcare service providers such as famplus or hotlines for family care and psychosocial support, women and men in the company are supported worldwide. Care is also taken to ensure that women are represented in the talent pools in the same way as men and that they are given appropriate and fair consideration in staffing processes. the aim of the Group’s diversity management is to have 15 percent of management positions at thyssenkrupp filled by women by 2020. At the end of last year this figure was 12.6 percent.
Sandra Reus has also benefited from the childcare services which thyssenkrupp offers its employees. At the Duisburg site, the company day care center “Stahlsternchen” opened just as her own child reached day care age. “The childcare hours from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. are sensational, as are the childcare staff and the small groups. After my parental leave, this enabled me to return to full-time employment quickly and with a clear conscience,” she recalls. Currently she is also taking advantage of the opportunity to work on the move.
Backlog in the MINT sector
Despite many initiatives in schools, universities and companies to promote young women in engineering and scientific professions, the MINT sector in particular is still a male domain. There is still room for improvement here. Promoting women in MINT subjects is a goal to which thyssenkrupp has long been committed. For example, thyssenkrupp is involved in the Femtec network, which awards scholarships to female MINT students and helps talented women enter engineering professions. The “tk Talents” program also provides support in identifying and promoting young executives. More than 1,700 talents were identified here in the 2018 / 2019 financial year. 23% of these talents are women.