When the corporate departments first spoke to me about the Emotional Driving project, I must admit I was entirely thrilled by it. Not only because safety and prevention are a priority for Gonvarri Steel Services, something we have dedicated maximum effort to for a number of years, promoting safe behavior and achieving a healthy work environment. This initiative aimed to go further: to take our philosophy of safety and prevention beyond the factories, beyond the company, to the daily life of our employees and all of us. And that thrilled me.
When I first learned about Emotional Driving, my thoughts weren’t about the company; I didn’t think about the factories, numbers, or growth… I thought only about the people, about the group’s 40,000 employees and their families, I thought about my family, about my friends. I thought about the fact that we are all drivers and also passengers, and pedestrians, and that for many hours of our daily life we live in cars. How many minutes do we drive each day? How many times do we sit behind the steering wheel or cross a street every week? Considering the amount of time we spend on the road, it’s curious we never think we’ll have an accident; that it is something that only happens to other people, it always happens to “them”. We are invulnerable. This blindness has been with us for many years and has caused a great deal of pain.
This is why I wish to give my most sincere and heartfelt thanks to the Fundación AESLEME, to Mar Cogollos and Tavo Almela, and to all of the professionals who are participating in Emotional Driving and watching out for our safety on the road. Their stories are impressive and move us and, above all, make us reflect. Because we don’t imagine something like this ever happening to a loved one, or to any other person. We view it at a distance and it seems as though it doesn’t affect us… until it does. Recently, the husband of a friend of mine had an accident while riding his motorcycle with his son; he lost a leg and the boy was left in a coma. An accident caused by the carelessness of a third party which shows once more that we aren’t immune, that we are human and make mistakes.
We mustn’t think it won’t happen to us. Because it does. As it has to you or to a family member, or someone you know. Sometimes we just have a brush with tragedy, it warns us (we’ve all had silly bumps or accidents without serious consequences). The question is, how many warnings do we need before we become more aware?
This is why this project and the inestimable work it is carrying out are so important to us. The way it helps us to become more aware. Through realities, through testimonies that have opened our eyes and minds, bit by bit; through the opportunity of experiencing it firsthand, of living it, feeling it. I believe this is the best thing about the project, its most effective aspect. And all of it with a positive focus, which is how we do things at Gonvarri.
In this sense, the collaboration with AESLEME has been essential to helping Emotional Driving function with absolute effectiveness in sharing this necessary message, which is none other than that of raising awareness, avoiding deaths, avoiding injuries. And we are especially proud to have collaborated with them for many years in our work to promote safety on the road.
All of us, together, are achieving it. We are becoming more aware of the responsibility we have when driving, for our sake, for our family’s sake and for the sake of others, because we don’t drive alone. And because we aren’t isolated from what surrounds us, at Gonvarri we have always been aware of the place we occupy in society and part of our spirit is to care not only for our people, but also for our surroundings, both people and nature.
This is part of the values that have always defined this company and which we have inherited from our founder: honesty, humility, tenacity and effort. Our values and our code of ethics and behavior are the pillars that guide the corporate social responsibility of the group, on which we develop our corporate principles and the foundations of our social activity, our permanent commitment to society. The collaboration with the Fundación Lo Que De Verdad Importa, to encourage the spread of universal values among young people, the support for the Fundación Juan XXIII, which encourages the social and professional integration of people with mental disabilities, or the contribution to the project, World Central Kitchen, which carries out magnificent work encouraging healthy, sustainable food and the strengthening of local economies in zones that suffer humanitarian catastrophes, such as Haiti. This, in addition to other initiatives of solidarity that have emerged from the factories themselves, such as the campaigns in favor of the Food Bank, collaborations with the Red Cross, donations of toys and clothes, blood donations…
It is perhaps these values and principles, these actions that benefit our people and society, that make us most proud to belong to this company. To know that for us, for all of us, what really matters are people. This is our best bottom line.
The recent years have been difficult ones. But we have managed to face the crisis, we have looked it in the eye and have navigated our way through it. I must say with pride that we have grown during these years of crisis; we are now two companies, GSS and GRI, and we have grown from having 26 factories in 2007 to having 40 in 2015; in 2010, we were 3,500 people, and we ended 2015 with more than 7,500 employees. We must feel very proud of this. We have also strived and grown in the Corporación Gestamp, and the result is that Gestamp now has 100 factories and over 32,300 employees in 20 countries.
All of us together amount to almost 40,000 people, in over 140 factories in 26 countries. And it’s a matter of pride to reflect on how it all began, with the “boss”, my father, the founder. I’m certain, wherever he may be, that he would also be proud to see what his company has become.
But while numbers are important and are a permanent source of satisfaction, the environment in which we live also matters to us; we aren’t only concerned about income, growing, helping people in the way we know how, which is creating jobs and generating wealth; we also have the obligation of returning to society part of what it has given us and for this reason we have for years collaborated with AESLEME, with the Fundación Juan XXIII, with the World Central Kitchen and the Fundación Lo Que De Verdad Importa. And this is why this project, Emotional Driving, is so important and so much “ours”.
I’m convinced that these 40,000 people are a team that is proud to belong to this company, to bear its shield throughout the world. In this sense, I want to particularly recognize the contribution of Leading The Change. We are now very large and this media has helped us to feel united and participants in the same house and the same cause.
Lastly, I repeat my gratitude to everyone for this project, those of you who have made it possible, those of you who have given us your stories, your experiences, to raise our awareness (truly, you have touched our hearts), and everyone, every one of you, who has participated or is about to do so. Thank you for helping us avoid so many tragedies.
Thank you, above all, for helping us be better people. That is true success.