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GENERAL NEWS / 08-03-2023


Ana Guinea claims recognition for the women with whom she works on her first 8 March as Grupo Arania's Director of Sustainability, and highlights the group's work in this area by framing her appointment in an "internal promotion policy based on talent management".

Question. You have just become Grupo Arania's Director of Sustainability. Will the celebrations for this 8th March be special?

Answer. The most special thing for me is working for a world that is more equitable and seeking recognition every day for the women with whom I have the pleasure of working. We are still far from being the equitable society that respects the basic rights of all people, which is why our efforts must focus on education: we have to educate in equal opportunities, rights and duties, from early childhood and in all spheres of society. Stereotypes must be torn down, we must provide female role models and we must work every day towards the goal of living in a more egalitarian society.

"This appointment is a challenge because it means leading a key area for Grupo Arania with profound economic, environmental and social implications".


Q. What does your appointment as head of a new Sustainability department mean in terms of equality?

A. I think it is part of the internal promotion policy based on talent management and the transformation process towards a sustainable model that Grupo Arania has been working on for years. The creation of the Sustainability Department has just become official, but the group has always been involved in this task. The other day I read a note from the International Labour Organization which stated that it is mostly women leading the sustainable transformation in companies. I thought this curious and revealing, and I wondered if it were due to an emotional intelligence or another reason. In my case, it's a very ambitious, motivating and complex challenge because it means leading a key area for Grupo Arania that has profound economic, environmental and social implications.

"Sustainability is somewhat cross-cutting; it is an area that affects all departments and processes"


Q. But why a Sustainability Department? What roles and challenges does it face?

 Despite its formal creation, Grupo Arania's Sustainability Department is comprised of all 1,000 people in the Group. I am the visible part but the success of this project will be as a result of all the people who work here. Sustainability is somewhat cross-cutting; it affects all departments and processes. The need comes from the evolution of the markets, consumers themselves and, of course, by greater regulatory pressure. The Sustainability Department will be responsible for collating all this information and promoting the group's sustainable.

 "Within a year, I would like for any person within the Group to be able to explain this Department's strategies and goals"


Q. Are you aware of the variables involved in this appointment? You have taken a management position in a sector traditionally dominated by men; doing so in a newly created area, and you must take on the greatest transformation that the steel industry has experienced in its entire history, as your colleague Marc Bosch explains.

A. Since taking on this role, I have been acutely aware of the transformative power that companies have when it comes to promoting a better world, and the positive impact they can generate. When talking about the future and the company, there is an indisputable term that unites them; sustainability. Sustainability implies adapting processes and involving all teams because it is cross-cutting and affects all levels of the company. This cross-cutting issue has become somewhat fundamental for Grupo Arania. Within a year, I would like for any person within the Group to be able to explain this department's motives, strategies, goals, etc. This will mean all of them having internalised its importance and their having contributed to making Grupo Arania more sustainable.

"Grupo Arania has always worked on sustainability. What we are doing now is bringing together all the measures to offer a group vision, share knowledge, create synergies, etc."


Q. International targets on CO2 emissions make your department a strategic area in upcoming years, but where does the Group start from? Has it already moved towards this transition?

Grupo Arania has always worked on sustainability. What the new Department is now doing is gathering this data from all our environmental, social and governance activity. We have come a long way. We were at the forefront in the Basque Country in using energy with a guarantee of source; we have closed a historic agreement with a major European steel mill to obtain green steel; we have the 50001 certifications for efficient energy management; we are working on calculating our carbon footprint and on a decarbonisation plan; investments have been approved to install solar panels; our R&D teams work on projects that will contribute very favourably to the EU's energy strategy; we are working on the proper management of consumables…. None of this is new: what we are now doing is bringing it all together to offer a group vision that will allow us to share knowledge and create synergies.

"The key thing about emission reduction targets is that companies have become aware of it and are adopting measures"


Q. There are very ambitious challenges in Europe. Is a 55% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030 feasible?

A. This target – part of the Fitfor 55 plan – is very ambitious because it includes laws that have not even been approved yet. In my opinion, the important thing is that companies are now aware of the targets and are adopting measures because sustainability is a long-term journey.

"The speed that companies had in their decarbonisation processes has slowed due to the geopolitical and financial situation"


Q. As if that were not enough, the current international situation is totally unstable. How could it affect those deadlines?

A. Clearly this situation is affected because nothing is stable today: it is telling that the Collins dictionary chose "permacrisis" – to describe a permanent crisis – as its word of the year for 2022. A Women Action Sustainability breakfast was held last week at which it was revealed that the speed that companies had been working on their own decarbonisation processes had slowed due to the geopolitical and financial situation. In any case, and irrespective of the speed at which this process progresses, the important thing is that we continue to act and take steps along this long path.

"Although green steel does not exist today, we are increasing our purchase quota from steel suppliers with low CO2 emissions"


Q. Grupo Arania has made a firm commitment to the so-called green steel. What steps have you taken so far and what is your outlook?

A. We are frontrunners in the transformation towards green steel, and have signed a strategic agreement with the Salzgitter Group, one of the major industrial groups in the steel sector. This German corporation is committed to delivering this type of steel from the end of 2025 or the beginning of 2026. Before this date, speaking of real green steel would be to speak of an authentic utopia. We anticipate that there will be a very limited supply of emission-free steel and a great shortage, which is why we are positioning ourselves now, working closely with all market agents to have a good competitive advantage in it.

We have also signed Memorandums of Understanding with ThyssenKrupp and TATA and have carried out tests on steel with very low CO2 emissions, with Arcelor Mittal and Salzgitter, whose availability as of today, as I previously mentioned, is extremely limited.

Steel mills have set late 2025-early 2026 as a milestone and to meet it they have to make largest investment in the entire history of the steel sector.

Grupo Arania will continue to explore the possibility of signing more agreements of this type with other steel mills both in and outside Europe.

Although green steel with 0% CO2 emissions does not currently exist, we are increasing our purchases from steel suppliers with very low emissions and will continue to collaborate closely with the main steel mills worldwide to be a leading benchmark in Europe in the transition towards steel free of CO2 emissions.

"Responsible management practices are a way to build trust and position Grupo Arania as a reliable brand with a good reputation without foregoing profitability"


Q. What Corporate Social Responsibility challenges does your Department face?

A. Since being founded, the group has worked with responsible management practices that are part of our identity and our values. These are ownership-led practices that are managed on a company-by-company basis. It is a way of generating confidence in the market and positioning Grupo Arania as a trustworthy brand, with a very good reputation, obviously without foregoing profitability, which is the ultimate goal of this business project. One of our challenges is to strengthen this group culture, to save resources, to share knowledge and to make further progress in economic, environmental and social fields.

Q. What projects will you work on in 2023?

R. We will focus on integrating the Sustainable Development Goals into our strategy; managing diversity; continuing with the healthy company project; working on responsible and sustainable innovation; moving forwards in the green taxonomy; monitoring regulations; improving waste management, as part of our commitment to the Circular Economy, and of course, communicating it transparently. Next year, a new European Directive (CSRD) will come into force, which aims to achieve greater transparency in reporting by organisations.