2019's 100 Global Inspirational Women in Mining. Copyright: Charlotte Knee Photography
Business Opinion

Inspiring the next generation of women in mining

Carly asks Alex Buck, MD of WIM (UK), what it takes to make the 100 Global Inspirational Women in Mining list, and why it's so important to promote female pioneers

Increasing the visibility of good role models plays a vital part in encouraging new and diverse recruits into the mining sector.

Women in Mining UK (WIM), is all too aware of this and, in March, the organisation launched a search for 100 Inspirational Women in Mining to feature in its next publication.

I was proud and delighted to see one of my friends included in the last edition, and wanted to find out what drove WIM to create such a powerhouse. Managing director, Alex Buck, was on hand to answer my questions…

CL: How and why did the 100 Inspirational Women in Mining report come about?

AB: The idea arose from a study WIM commissioned in 2012 with PwC (London) to evaluate trends and performance of women on boards and in senior executive positions in the global mining industry.

The report highlighted the lack of diversity within the industry with fewer women on its boards and in senior executive positions than any other major global industry – and by a considerable margin.

When the results were further analysed, the report identified one of the main challenges was the lack of female role models in the sector. This then sowed the seed for the 100 Global Inspirational Women in Mining (WIM100) initiative.

Alex Buck is managing director of Women in Mining UK
Alex Buck is managing director of Women in Mining UK

The WIM100 is a biennial publication which celebrates the inspirational women in our industry. We are currently working on the fourth edition and we are very excited to have an amazing group of global sponsors: BMO Capital Markets, Boston Consulting Group, IBM and Heidrick & Struggles, supporting this initiative.

Nominations opened in early March and we’ll be announcing the selected nominees on November 19, 2020, so we encourage everyone to nominate their inspiring female colleagues here.

Why is it so important that we raise the visibility of female pioneers and leaders?

As the WIM/PwC study pointed out, the lack of role models in the industry is an impediment to getting women on boards and into executive teams. We need to change this, and it starts with visibility and recognition of female trailblazers and leaders.

Celebrating these types of role models will inspire young women to know they too can be pioneers and achieve things that haven’t been done before.

What’s so wonderful about the WIM100 initiative is that it goes beyond just focusing on women in leadership positions.

It showcases inspiring women across the whole gamut of our global industry, from the coal face to the boardroom, at every stage of the life cycle of the industry and representing the individuals and communities who are touched by it.

We have some wonderful examples of WIM100 alumni who are making a tangible difference to the mining industry and those who are impacted by it, for example:

  • Lana Eagle is a member of the Whitecap Dakota First Nation in Saskatchewan and advises companies on how to better work with indigenous communities so that they can enjoy the opportunities and benefits that come via mining;
  • Christine Logbo-Kossi, who works at the Chamber of Mines Cote d’Ivoire, manages the industry’s engagements with stakeholders and works on issues such as supply chain, security and sustainability;
  • Noreen Doyle is chair of Newmont’s Board of Directors, one of the world’s largest gold producers. During her time at Newmont, Noreen has made diversity a strategic initiative; and
  • Janet Adeyemi is the founder of Women in Mining Nigeria and committed to responsible governance, gender justice, and shielding host communities from harm.
the 100 Global Inspirational Women in Mining lunch 2018
2018’s 100 Global Inspirational Women in Mining enjoy a celebratory lunch together in London. Photo: Charlotte Knee Photography

What can we do to encourage more women and girls to pursue careers in STEM fields?

Greater visibility and more female role models across all the different STEM sectors demonstrates to younger generations that there is a place for women in STEM, that women are welcomed, recognised and respected, and can enjoy very rewarding and fulfilling careers.

It all starts with encouraging female students to pursue STEM subjects. Schools need to play their part and consider how they are communicating and marketing STEM to both genders.

Reports show that small adjustments in student-focused marketing can significantly increase the numbers of female students who enrol and gain STEM degrees.

Finally, STEM firms themselves must also be more proactive about launching and communicating initiatives that actively attract women and ensure their retention.

How can we support more women to reach positions of leadership?

Develop, empower, progress and support.

We need to make sure companies have comprehensive strategies in place to develop their pipeline of future female leaders, starting at the entry level and across all the key roles be it management, technical or operations.

This includes inclusive recruitment practices (such as using more inclusive terms on job descriptions), strong internal mentoring and sponsorship programmes, tailored professional development programmes and a commitment to diversity and inclusion from senior management.

Corporate cultures must be inclusive and empower women to reach their full potential. Many women are still having to juggle their career aspirations with the reality of being a primary care giver and working around daycare and school hours.

Introducing initiatives specifically geared at increasing the number of women, such as flexible working hours and support for working moms, will reap future rewards as these women progress in the business.

Giving men that flexibility too is the next step as they should also be able to take on the role of primary caregiver if that’s what is best for the family.

Standing together: a few of the 2018 WIM100 pose with the print publication. Photo: Charlotte Knee Photography
Standing together: a few of the 2018 WIM100 pose with the print publication. Photo: Charlotte Knee Photography

And finally, ensure progression of those talented women into executive leadership positions across all key roles mentioned earlier – management, technical and operations – with a clear support network of colleagues and mentors.

In many ways the mining industry is ahead of the curve.

Over the past few years, we have seen a visible improvement in diversity and inclusion across the industry. Many mining companies have begun changing the way in which they approach this issue and it’s been great to see some clear leadership from some the largest players in the sector.

For example, Anglo American has a clear target of 25% women in its senior management team and BHP has a clear target of a 50% female workforce by 2025.

Other stakeholders in the industry also have a role to play. Investors should be regularly asking leadership teams questions about their diversity and inclusion approach and practices.

It’s also encouraging to see the industry’s mining associations, such as AusIMM, PDAC and Minerals Council of South Africa, working hard to ensure women can access the same opportunities as their male counterparts.

But we cannot rest upon our laurels, without a deliberate goal of prioritising diversity and inclusion as making good business sense, the pace of change is unlikely to improve significantly.

 

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