and Road Safety

For three decades, Gonvarri has understood road safety as a commitment to innovation, to society and to people’s lives. The ultimate goal that drives us, our great motivation, is to be able to collaborate so that cars and roads are safer and thus save lives.

Gonvarri’s relationship with road safety is not exactly a recent one. The group began to get involved with this cause more than twenty-five years ago; at first in a straight forward way, manufacturing road barriers. Almost three decades later, we can say that that modest industrial adventure has today become one of our main divisions, Road Safety (Road Steel), which highlights the company’s concern for making road borders safer every day. Or what amounts to the same thing, for fewer people to die on our roads every year. And although it is true that the number of fatal accidents has fallen recently, there is still a lot of work to be done, on the vehicles, on the mentality of the drivers and, of course, on the roads. There are many fatal accidents that could have been avoided through a simple solution; and there are many that can still be avoided.

This is the main reason why, over the years, Gonvarri has evolved from transforming a product (steel), to planning and developing solutions for road safety. In the whole process, from beginning to end. The analysis of the problem, the identification and evaluation of the different risk areas that exist on the road which, as drivers, we almost never take into account. Society is calling for new safety measures. Drivers, experts, administrations, common sense… And Gonvarri, from its Road Safety division, has been responding and providing  solutions to this demand for years, following a work strategy that seeks innovation and leadership in its sector. Not only in Spain, but also exporting Spanish innovation to many other countries. Today, Road Steel is a reference in innovation worldwide.

Through this service to society, this commitment to road safety and people’s lives, it is not an exaggeration to say that the company has been an essential asset in the enormous leap forward Spain has made over the last ten years; a country that had never been a pioneer in this area and today is at the forefront of technology worldwide. We have worked hard and well. And we continue to open up new paths for its development, reaching any corner of the planet where we can contribute our experience and added value. And always with the same goal: to help improve the quality of roads around the world. These are the values that have always guided our company, since its foundation. The continuous improvement, the innovative spirit, the international vocation, the commitment to society and the certainty that the ultimate goal that moves us, our great motivation, is to be able to collaborate so that all people on the road are safer. To save human lives.

As Nacho Villoch -one of the greatest experts in digital innovation and transformation in Spain- states, «It is a good thing that there are companies and people who have been working for years on road safety, on safer vehicles, on non-deformable car bodies with improved materials and structures, and on road safety devices on the roads. Innovative companies, with values, concerned about people, the environment and sustainability, about talent and efficient management of resources; that have led important transformations in their sector and promoted changes that go beyond their sector, reaching the whole of society and even the legislation. Companies like Gonvarri, which are doing well precisely because they do things right (Doing well by doing good). And also, trying to do good, as in the case of Emotional Driving».


Commitment to people

Since its inception, and especially in recent years, the health and safety of our employees has been one of Gonvarri’s priorities, because we are well aware that people are our most important asset. Both inside and outside our plants. It is part of the company’s corporate culture to take care of our people. Giving priority to people over numbers, putting employees before profits. And, in the process, to help drive the change from a society focused on things to a society focused on people.

The issue of safety has never been foreign to the company, because industrial activity involves certain occupational risks in relation to which all necessary preventive measures must be taken. This is why in recent years important initiatives in this direction have been embraced, to provide a solution to the need to create and promote a culture of awareness and prevention at all levels of the company. Considering safety as an obligatory requirement, involving managers and employees, has proven to be the most effective way to avoid accidents, incidents and recklessness in the workplace.

Thus, in 2011 Gonvarri launched the “One Step Ahead” program, a global plan to promote a culture of prevention in the workplace; and also outside it, in day-to-day activities. Four lines of action were developed to achieve these objectives: to have the best health and safety conditions, to reduce risks from the outset; management systems integrated into the line of command, so that each person knows what they should contribute to safety; training of all employees on risks and standards; and awareness of the importance for the company and employees of complying with existing standards. Within this Plan, Emotional Driving is undoubtedly the star project, both for its spectacular results in this firm commitment to safety within the company, and for the numerous external awards and acknowledgements it has received, throughout its five years of intense and prolific life.

When we talk about motor vehicle traffic, we are  alking about work accidents in capital letters, figures that dwarf any other cause in comparison. Statistics tell us that one out of every three fatal accidents at work is caused by motor vehicle traffic; of these, the majority occur during workers’ journeys to their jobs or when they travel between work centers or as a result of their own activity. Taking into account this data, the involvement of companies is absolutely necessary and urgent; it is a question of responsibility towards their employees and towards society. And in the case of Gonvarri, it is also a constant concern and a priority. With this commitment, Emotional Driving began its journey in December 2014 in collaboration with AESLEME (Association to educate and raise awareness about mobility injuries in Spain) and with the aim of promoting a preventive culture in the field of safety.

The strength of the project, and its success in terms of participation (reaching 91%), derives from the integration of three phases – experience, participation and training – which, through positive messages and close testimonies, bring together the rational and the emotional, the training and the experiential, the educational and the recreational; messages that have managed to permeate the daily lives of employees. This was a collaborative challenge that Gonvarri proposed its employees five years ago to motivate them to drive more safely and to make them aware of the benefits of this type of driving. And, one of the keys of the project was for them to reflect on what motivates them to drive safely.

The Emotional Driving activity days were planned so that workers from the different plants, in Spain and in the rest of the countries, could participate in different activities, talks and conferences, including more than convincing simulators, impressive testimonies from people involved in traffic accidents (victims, firemen, police and doctors), a participation based on whatm otivates each person to drive more safely and a training course in which the main risk areas affecting road safety are dealt with: pedestrians, human factors, road conditions and vehicle conditions.

The results of these initiatives to prevent occupational risks, and of others that have been carried out throughout the company’s history, have made the workers understand that safety is a non-negotiable requirement at Gonvarri, and they value the company’s efforts both in the investments made to eliminate risks and dangers, and in raising awareness and promoting the prevention of those risks and dangers.

Gonvarri has decided to shoulder this concern and spare no effort to make its workers and society in general aware of how important it is to take zero risks when it comes to our lives and those of others. This is the objective of Emotional Driving, to try to minimize accident numbers and contribute to saving lives.


Commitment to society

As we have pointed out previously, one of Gonvarri’s greatest concerns has been the safety of the people who work at the company, their physical integrity. It is not just a question of complying with an imposed rule or a European directive, it is something that comes from deep down, that the company has internalized in such a way that Gonvarri cannot be understood without that commitment. And with the involvement of all its departments, all its managers and all it employees and collaborators. It cannot be any other way. This is what has made the Group an ethical benchmark, guided by the founding principles defined by Francisco Riberas and reflected in the Group’s Code of Ethics and Conduct. And it is also what drives us to go further.

“Every night we must go to bed thinking: who have I helped today, who have I made happy? For Jaume Sanllorente, founder of the NGO Smiles of Bombay and a conference speaker of What Really Matters, thinking about others is not a pose, it is not marketing, it is not an isolated or mechanical act; it is a daily attitude,constant, coherent, sincere; it is something deep, that comes from within, and that is always there. We are talking about the personal level, and also the business level. It is one of the values that best defined Francisco Riberas.

And that is why social action is another of the company’s major priorities, today as it was yesterday. The founder’s example of generosity and dedication to others has had a profound effect on his successors, as could not be otherwise. The founder, in a personal and discreet way, never saying ‘no’ to anyone, whether he was an employee, friend, colleague or family member. And his successors, in a more corporate, more institutionalized way, but equally sincere and honest. Neither with Francisco Riberas nor with Paco and Jon has the company been isolated from its surroundings; on the contrary, father and sons have always been aware of their place in society and it is in their DNA to take care, not only of their people, but also of their surroundings, nature and society.

This is part of the values that have always defined the company and that today, and more than sixty years ago, guide Gonvarri’s Corporate Social Responsibility. These values are the basis of Gonvarri’s corporate principles and also the foundation of its social activity and its undying commitment to society: Collaboration with the Foundation Lo Que De Verdad Importa (What Really Matters), to promote the dissemination of universal values among young people; support for the John XXIII Foundation, which promotes the social and occupational integration of people with intellectual disabilities; collaboration with AESLEME, whose aim is to prevent accidents and their serious consequences; and contribution to the World Central Kitchen project, which does magnificent work in serving food in areas suffering from humanitarian disasters, such as Haiti. In addition to other solidarity initiatives that have originated in the company plants.

The Group has also been a partner of the United Nations Global Compact since 2013. This is the largest voluntary corporate social responsibility initiative in the world, which currently has more than thirteen thousand signatories in 145 countries. Its mission is to promote corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the areas of Human Rights and Business, Labor Standards, Environment and Anti-Corruption, helping companies implement business models and sustainable development. Among other principles, it promotes the empowerment of women, the protection of children, care for the planet (climate change), responsible investment and the promotion of business for peace.

The ultimate goal of the application of corporate principles is none other than to contribute value to society. Through the creation of jobs, road safety (as in the case of Emotional Driving), constructive influence on people and management models, protection of the planet, contribution to Humanity’s progress. A constant responsibility of the company with society that has much to do with the example of the founder, and which for some years now has been exercised in a more organized, more coherent and more efficient way. For those of us who are part of Gonvarri, it is not only a question of corporate responsibility, it is a moral conviction.

It is perhaps these values and principles, these actions for the benefit of much-needed causes, promoting progress and equality, that make employees feel most proud to belong to Gonvarri. The knowledge that for the company, and for all of them, what really matters is people. And the certainty that every activity, every action, every project or collaboration is carried out in conscience. As Gary Cooper’s character in Friendly Persuasion (William Wyler, 1956) states: “A man’s life is worth nothing if he does not live in accordance with his conscience”. And neither is the life of a company.

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