Women in Mining

An excerpt from a speech by Carole Cable, Chair of Women in Mining, for the WIM100 Inspirational Women in Mining 2018 Edition, launched in November 2018

 

While we in the industry will all agree, mining for women can be a great career choice but the perception of mining today is one of being misogynistic, unsafe, and environmentally unfriendly. In addition to these perceptions, there are the practical realities of mining – often remote regions in which to work, family unfriendly hours, and a lot of travelling and time away from family and friends. Unsurprisingly, the perception plus the reality are not seen as being particularly appealing to millennial women; and these women are our next generation of leaders.

Something has to change if we are to achieve our goal of a diverse workforce and pipeline, and it must start with eliminating complacency. The biggest impediment to change is complacency – it is the killer of advancement and will destroy the mining industry’s relevance.

We are seeing some advancement by companies challenging the traditional mining business model which is based on the “bread winner model” which no longer works for families who have more than one breadwinner, or for women who are unable to work 9 to 5, shift work hours or FIFO. We are seeing some companies addressing female safety, sexual harassment, flexible working, childcare, cultural differences, working conditions, and unconscious bias.

But this is being led by just a handful of majors and it needs to be done regardless of size or operating jurisdiction. Only when we change the model will we be able to attract and retain more women into the sector – and this is not happening fast enough.

If it has become socially unacceptable to incur fatalities, pollute the environment, have no governance and not create shared value with our host communities, shouldn’t the lack of diversity and inclusion be equally unacceptable? ESG has been shown to be an economic and social imperative to a long-term sustainable business, and so has diversity and inclusion.

The stories in this book are truly inspirational. They show the bravery and resilience of women in mining around the world and why diversity and inclusion are so important and necessary for the long-term survival of the industry. They also debunk the myth that “there are just no good women out there”; but the common thread throughout the stories is the call to speed up change.

The pace of change will only improve if we eliminate complacency and move diversity and inclusion to the same priority as safety and health, environment, governance and community engagement; and if companies of all sizes and jurisdictions adopt this approach and report on it.