thyssenkrupp Steel Europe AG
47166 Duisburg, Germany
The law graduate’s career initially headed in a different direction: After completing her degree, she worked in the Faculty of European and International Law at Martin Luther University in Halle/Saale and then held several positions at law firms. She then moved into industry, representing the thyssenkrupp group in Brussels as Public Affairs Manager for six years. In 2008 she then became climate policy expert for thyssenkrupp Steel Europe in Duisburg.
Sandra Reus finds her work as a climate expert varied and fascinating: “No two days are the same – politics is a fast-moving field and I am in dialogue with a wide variety of people about essential issues affecting economic life.”
The climate expert is particularly proud of being involved in the thyssenkrupp Steel climate strategy: “The changes we are initiating now and on the path to climate-neutral steel production are groundbreaking and huge.” In November 2019, in a world first thyssenkrupp Steel began testing the use of hydrogen instead of carbon (here in the form of pulverized coal) in a blast furnace at its Duisburg site. “The project represents a completely new process. It’s the start of hydrogen-based steel production.”
To reach this point and be involved in such major projects, Sandra Reus had to spend a long time proving herself. To this day, women are still underrepresented in numerous fields. “I can speak from experience that as a woman there are a lot of eyes on you to start with. I had to work really hard to prove myself before male colleagues in my own and other sectors took me seriously as a colleague,” she says.
In the first ten years of her career – in particular in the almost six years she spent representing thyssenkrupp in Brussels – she worked with just a handful of women. “At that time the political arena in Brussels was very male-dominated,” says Reus. But it’s different at the site in Duisburg: In the “Environmental and Climate Protection, Sustainability” department where Sandra Reus works, almost 40% of the team are women.
But what do government and companies need to do to advance equal opportunities? Where workplace arrangements allow, above all flexible working models are particularly important. Women and men need support in balancing family and work, Sandra Reus believes. “thyssenkrupp Steel Europe AG has just taken a big step in this respect and concluded a company agreement on mobile working. We need to continue systematically along this path. I will definitely be making use of this opportunity.”
thyssenkrupp is working continuously towards increasing the proportion of women in its workforce, currently 15.4 percent. Family/work balance is at the very top of the priority list. With offers such as the parent-and-child office, the company child daycare center, childcare providers such as famplus, and hotlines offering advice on caring for relatives and psychosocial assistance, the company supports female and male employees worldwide. It is also ensured that women and men are evenly represented in the talent pools and considered equally and fairly in recruitment processes. The group’s Diversity Management target: by 2020 15 percent of management positions at thyssenkrupp should be held by women. At the end of last year this figure was 12.6 percent.
Sandra Reus believes that, to achieve a positive effect for women, men must also have the opportunity to take parental leave.
Sandra Reus is among the people who have benefited from the childcare services thyssenkrupp offers its workforce. At the plant in Duisburg, the company child daycare center “Stahlsternchen” had just opened as her own child reached kindergarten age. “The opening hours from 7.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. are sensational, as are the staff-to-child ratio and the small groups. It made it so much easier for me to return to full-time work quickly with a clear conscience after my parental leave,” she says. Currently she is also taking the opportunity to work remotely.
“Ultimately everyone benefits from these solutions,” says Sandra Reus: “The company benefits because I can concentrate fully on my work, and I do too because the conditions are ideal.”