The Mining Executive
"Global Mining Decisions In Your Palms"

Diversity: A key factor in the social, economic and environmental sustainability in mining.

“People and their talents are among the core drivers of sustainable, long-term economic growth. If half of these talents are underdeveloped or underutilized, growth and sustainability will be compromised. Moreover, there is a compelling and fundamental values case for empowering women: women represent one half of the global population—they deserve equal access to health, education, earning power and political representation.” 

There is a great push in world-leading not-for-profit organizations towards diversity. Most mining companies are beginning to prioritize diversity on their agendas. Diversity is a key factor in the social, economic and environmental sustainability of a mining company.
GENDER EQUALITY: UN | One of the sustainable-development goals defined by the United Nations is to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
In 2015 the UN adopted a new set of aspirations for the next 15 years; the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The UN defines 17 SDGs, which are broken down into 169 targets, for outlining an agenda for nations, NGOs and business leaders. These goals are intended to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity. Gender equality is identified as one of the sustainable development goals. It sets out to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls“. A further aim is to eliminate discrimination and violence against women, stop harmful practices, embrace fair pay, equal opportunities, and rights, and promote the empowerment of women.
GENDER EQUALITY: WEF | The World Economic Forum drives concepts to empower women by advocating equal access to health, education, earning power and political representation.
Gender equality is described in the World Economic Forum Global “Gender Gap Report” as follows.

“People and their talents are among the core drivers of sustainable, long-term economic growth. If half of these talents are underdeveloped or underutilized, growth and sustainability will be compromised. Moreover, there is a compelling and fundamental values case for empowering women: women represent one half of the global population—they deserve equal access to health, education, earning power and political representation.” 

One of the recent studies conducted by the World Economic Forum concerning gender balance is considered below. It ran a study of 10 of the most gender-equal countries globally, including Norway, Belgium, Australia, Finland, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Canada, and the US. The results are telling us that we are not there yet. The study predicted that it will take another 217 years to close the gender gap at the current rate of progress, if gender norms are not specifically addressed now. Now, let´s look at the situation in mining.
THE SITUATION IN MINING | Only 16-18% of those engaged in the mining workforce are women
Women mining representation:
Based on the data we have, I found that, on average, women make up only 16-18% of the mining workforce in the top 10 mining companies in the world. It seems we have a lot to do to attract women into the industry. You might ask why we need to have females in a traditionally male-driven sector. Research shows that diversity can boost productivity, reputation, economic growth, organizational performance, and can help to attract and retain talent.

THE CHALLENGES | Issues and concerns which should be addressed to attract more women to the mining workforce. In order to attract more women in mining we need to address concerns related to human resources, infrastructure and behavior. A mining company should build synergies around these areas to attract more women into the mining industry. Some of areas that are discussed below are not new to the industry. However they are not fully embraced in the industry. It is now time to implement them to achieve long term benefits in the mining sector. 
Human resources related issues
A mining company should consider flexible working hours by having women-friendly shifts. HR departments should prioritize flexible shift hours for women by addressing their concerns and issues. Mining companies need to have fair payment schemes to attract more women into the workforce. Equal pay for both genders is essential. Men-driven mentality sometimes occurs unconsciously or unintentionally during the hiring process. Therefore, I suggest that in future there should be a quota for women in the hiring process. There may be times when it will be hard to fill some of the job roles using females because of a lack of expertise or experience. The areas where women can be productive are discussed later in this article. HR personnel should prioritize female applicants when filling those job roles. Also, HR should drive a parent-friendly culture in the mining organization, so that women who are mothers can adapt to the mining environment very easily. Providing an adequate maternity-leave period to enable a woman to settle down with their newborn babies is highly recommended in order to attract more women to the mining industry.
Infrastructure related issues

Mining companies should consider providing child-care and breast-feeding facilities in the administrative buildings so that parents can arrange for their children to play and sleep while they work in mines. They should also provide housing and transport facilities around mine sites if possible, to facilitate easy access to workers’ homes after night shifts. This will help to minimize FIFO time, thus increasing the productivity throughout the organization. The housing prices should be affordable. I have seen lot of mine villages around big mines in the world. Some mining companies build hospitals, schools and other basic infrastructure in those mine villages. It also attracts indigenous people to work in mines. That way, a mining company can bring concepts of diversity to their organization. These are some of the infrastructure related barriers to female employment that should addressed by a mining company.
Behavioral related issues

One of the barriers for women is the nature of work in the mining sector. We need to discuss priorities and passions to make sure women do what they are interested in when we allocate some tasks for them. One option would be to introduce women-friendly uniforms. The kind of people who join the industry is different from before. We need to take into consideration the priorities and requirements of millennials, and make sure the sector has an environment around mines which works for them. In that way we can retain female talent in the company. Mining employees must embrace a gender-inclusive working atmosphere to ensure everyone is heard and their opinions are valued.
JOB LANDSCAPE | The variety of jobs available for women in mining
Women in the mining job landscape:

We can minimize the gender gap if we target the right opportunities for women in mining. The opportunities lay in blue collar to white collar jobs, from skilled to unskilled.

Women who have postgraduate degrees in mining, geology, chemistry, geochemistry, geophysics, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, surveying etc. could add value in areas such as research and development. For women with business and law degrees, there should be opportunities in consulting, accounting, project management, tax management and compliance. Women with a technical related degree such as computer engineering, mathematics, engineering might well consider the IT area. Since concepts of digital transformation are kicking off in the industry, there are lot of opportunities for data analysts, data scientists, UI and UX engineers, agile coaches, dev ops engineers, mathematicians, and optimization experts. Also, for the innovators, innovation has started to disrupt the sector. Those with arts and/or social science degrees should be encouraged to apply for jobs in the HR area. HR could play a huge role in embracing diversity in a mining company. Women with process engineering or general engineering degrees could apply for jobs related to mining operations. I have seen a lot of female truck drivers who help operations to run smoothly on a daily basis.

Jobs such as data entry, cleaning, catering and administration require limited skill levels, and may be undertaken by women. I met a woman who started her career in an administration role and after a few years reached managerial level due to her continuous acquisition of skills, hard work and passion for the industry. We must promote such stories.
Women on mining boards and at senior executive levels

The percentage of women mining leadership and in mining board-level positions is small. One of the reasons for this is that few women remain in the mining sector to continue their career. To get onto some of the mining boards you need many years’ experience. This comes with working with different mining companies, commodities and regions. Unfortunately, many women finish their career in mining before they get to that stage.
PROMOTING WOMEN IN MINING | We need to actively promote women in mining globally and work together to embrace concepts of diversity

Apart of addressing the issues/concerns discussed above, we need to have other mechanisms to bring women into the mining sector. There are lot of programs that drive these concepts globally, which is positive. However, we need to effectively collaborate more and engage with these communities more often. The ideas such as empowering women in mining should be discussed globally in an effective manner.
Activities that can run to promote women in mining:

We have to up-skill women in technical competence, business and functional acumen and leadership. We need to run workshops to improve cognitive skills such as resilience, confidence, and assertiveness. Also we need to encourage women in mining to attend mining women leadership conferences and summits, and to learn from each other. Mentoring and coaching are crucial to ensure women are successful in the mining sector. Learning from seniors is the easy way to quickly grasp knowledge. It is great to see that big mining companies have started to sponsor women in mining events. They also provide scholarships for bright students to conduct mining related studies. Attracting more female students should start from student chapters. A lot is happening in mining student-chapters, especially in Australia. They organize industry events and even sponsor students to attend mining games. Female mining students should seek out those opportunities to engage with the industry to better understand how to leverage their skill sets and be a part of it.
THE BUZZ | There are many reasons why women should consider a career in the mining workforce
Based on talks I have had with my female counterparts who embarked on their journey in mining, this is what I have heard

CONCLUSION | World mining leaders need to understand that gender balance is crucial in driving the concepts of sustainability in a mining company
Moving forward:

We should acknowledge and thank women who have forged their career in mining. It is very courageous and a brave move to start something in male-dominated industry. This would be less confronting if mining companies were to concentrate more on diversity. In my own mining journey I have met a lot white and blue collar female mining leaders. Each one has a unique story to tell. That is what fascinates me about the mining industry. When I talk to them, they are so passionate about what they do. I found this inspiring. In some parts of the mining business, women work more than men in terms of hours and commitment. There is no discrimination at all. However, still we have to improve as a sector. It is already happening and future is promising.
I am totally committed to this industry. I think everyone involved in the mining business has a responsibility to drive these concepts and build the sector. This article is written to encourage women to engage more with the mining sector. We need you!
We drive a global initiative called “Women in mining for a better and sustainable future“. The idea is to alleviate hardship, prevent verbal harassment and physical abuse sometimes faced by women in mining globally, and boost the safety of female mineworkers.
CONTRIBUTOR: Dr. Kash Sirinanda

Futurist & Founder Elite Futurists

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