June 15, 2023

Promoting Gender Parity in the Workplace

To celebrate International Women’s Day in March 2022, our ABI smelter created a photo mural to highlight some of its 120 women employees.

Gabrielle Giraldeau joined our Aluminerie de Bécancour (ABI) smelter in Québec, Canada, in 2022. As a junior industrial engineer looking for an exciting career, she has found at ABI a welcoming environment where she can grow professionally and personally.

“The aluminum industry was out of the ordinary for me, but I felt it would allow me to acquire very interesting knowledge,” she said. “My integration as a woman at ABI was done in a natural and fluid way, and I immediately felt like part of my team and work environment.”

Gabrielle was one of 17 women who joined ABI in 2022 as part of its efforts to diversify its recruitment and hiring practices. The smelter’s goal is for women to comprise at least 25 percent of new hires annually. In previous years, a lack of interest in non-traditional roles and outdated perceptions about physical requirements and the work environment kept the number of female applicants low. These trends were reflected in the employment numbers: prior to 2021, only around 10 percent of new hires at ABI were women.

To achieve its aspirational 25 percent hiring goal, ABI is implementing various initiatives to recruit and retain female employees. To begin with, the site revised job postings to be gender-neutral, emphasizing the team environment and the variety of positions. The smelter also trained hiring managers in the importance of creating a diverse candidate pool to attract and hire the best talent.

One of the most valuable initiatives has been in-person interviews with every woman who applies for a position. This personalized approach has yielded a better understanding of each applicant’s qualifications, which may not always be typical for the industry. The smelter also invites groups of women to visit the plant and is collaborating with Centre Le Pont to encourage women to consider traditional trades as a career path.

The smelter’s actions have generated immediate and tangible results: ABI’s hiring rate for women has more than doubled since 2020. Even in an unusually tight labor market, women comprised 23 percent of all new hires in 2021 and 21 percent in 2022.

As a further sign of the smelter’s more inclusive work culture, 85 percent of the 38 women hired in 2021 were still with Alcoa at the end of 2022. Overall, women made up nearly 10 percent of ABI’s total workforce at the end of 2022, up from 2 percent two years earlier.