October 24, 2008
Alcoa Fjardaál receives prestigious Gender Equality Award

Today, Iceland's Minister of Social Affairs presented Tómas Már Sigurdsson, on behalf of Alcoa Fjardaál, with the 2008 Gender Equality Award. The annual award is granted by the Gender Equality Council in Iceland for outstanding work in the field of gender equality.

The Ministry of Social Affairs' news release states:
Alcoa Fjardaál’s policy on hiring an equal number of women and men to work for the company has been noteworthy from the beginning of its operations in Iceland. This policy was enforced with focused recruitment advertisements and special public meetings for women, held in all the communities in central East Iceland, in addition to other open meetings to introduce the company’s recruitment policy. The result of this policy is that 28% of all Alcoa Fjardaál employees are women, 34% of the operators and 27% of management. This is the highest percentage reached within Alcoa and may be a world record within the aluminum industry.
Alcoa Fjardaál follows a new Equal Opportunities Policy adapted to the Gender Equality Law No. 10/2008, which was recently passed through the Icelandic Parliament. It is accompanied by an ambitious execution plan which emphasizes continuing equalization measures in all fields, a plan to guarantee equal compensation for women and men and the integration of work and family life. Alcoa Fjardaál’s strategy on encouraging and supporting women to seek vocational education, and an emphasis on both sexes using their rights for parental leave and absence on account of children’s sickness, is also notable. Moreover, Alcoa Fjardaál participates every year in Intellecta’s salary survey, which covers employees who negotiate independently on their compensation, and women’s salaries have been raised as a result of these surveys.

The Gender Equality Council in Iceland considers Alcoa Fjardaál’s success in preventing gender-bound job options and gender partition in the job market, to be exemplary, especially under the circumstances in Iceland, where it has been difficult to break up the traditional gender pattern for choosing education and a field of work. Gender partition in the job market plays a part in sustaining gender-bound wage differentials and hence, all actions to reduce or eradicate it have a positive effect on wage discrimination by gender. Alcoa Fjardaál’s success is not the least notable in view of the fact that surveys show that gender-bound wage differentiation is higher in the countryside than in the capital area.

The Gender Equality Council in Iceland has granted the Gender Equality Award every year since 1992. Possible recipients can be individuals, groups, companies or associations that have in one way or the other excelled or made a difference in the field of gender equality. The purpose of the award is to recognize good work in order to equalize the status and opportunities for women and men, and be an incentive for further work in that field. The award has only once before been granted to a party outside the capital area: when the first award went to the town of Akureyri.

The award for 2008 is a porcelain statue by artist Gudrún Indridadóttir, titled: “Turn our backs together.”

The organization of gender equality work in Iceland
The Minister of Social Affairs is in charge of the implementation of the gender equality legislation, but the Centre for Gender Equality is responsible for its administration. The Minister of Social Affairs also appoints a Gender Equality Council and a Complaints Committee on Gender Equality. Within the Ministry of Social Affairs, a special department is in charge of Gender Equality and Employment Affairs.
The Centre for Gender Equality, the Gender Equality Council and the Complaints Committee operate inde­pendently of each other. The Centre for Gender Equality provides counseling and education in the field of gen­der equality. The centre also helps, when needed, with preparing complaints for the Complaints Committee and with the follow up of cases after the Complaints Com­mittee has issued its opinion. The role of the Complaints Committee is to consider and issue a written opinion on whether the provisions of the law have been violated. The Equal Status Council’s role is to make systematic efforts to equalize the status and the right of women and men in the labor market .



Click image to enlarge.

Alcoa Fjarðaál's women

A whooping 34% of the operators in the Alcoa Fjarðaál smelter in Reydarfjördur, Iceland, are women.

Click image to enlarge.

Men and women make the finest products

Alcoa Fjardaál is proud of its workforce and its products. Here, two female employees smile among the company's most valuable product: aluminum coil.