As we step into the second half of 2023, it is important to take stock of how mining companies have fared so far, especially with regards to women’s representation, rights, and welfare. Historically, the mining industry has been heavily dominated by men, leading to a severe underrepresentation of women in the sector. However, with the growing recognition of the significance of gender diversity and inclusivity in the workplace, this has started to change.
As the industry evolves, more companies are beginning to recognize the value of creating a diverse and inclusive workplace, which not only promotes equal opportunities but also fosters innovation and enhances overall performance, according to several studies by bodies like McKinsey & Company, Delloitte, and PwC. Therefore, this article seeks to acknowledge the progress made by some of the most gender-friendly mining companies in the world, and how they’ve managed to stay ahead of the rest.
These companies have implemented policies and practices that provide equal opportunities for all employees, irrespective of their gender, thereby setting an example for the rest of the industry to follow by promoting diversity and inclusivity as fundamental aspects of their business strategy. Here is a list of the world’s most gender-friendly companies, in no particular order, according to recent surveys.
BHP Group Limited is an Australian multinational mining, metals and natural gas petroleum public company headquartered in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. By 2017, BHP was the world’s largest mining company, based on market capitalization and Melbourne’s third largest company by revenue (Business News Australia, March 2019). BHP has mining operations in Australia, North America, and South America, and petroleum operations in the United States, Australia, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom, and Algeria.
BHP is currently recognised as one of the most gender-friendly mining companies in the world. The company has set a target of achieving gender balance by 2025, with a specific focus on increasing the representation of women in operational and leadership roles. (BHP website – Gender balance) To achieve this, the company has implemented several initiatives, such as flexible work arrangements, leadership development programs for women, and inclusive recruitment practices. BHP has also been recognized for its efforts to address the gender pay gap within the company. (BHP Sustainability Report 2020).
From 2019 to 2021, BHP registered six cases of sexual assault and seventy three cases of sexual harassment. A survey of 425 workers conducted by the Western Mine Workers’ Alliance, showed that two-thirds of female respondents had experienced verbal sexual harassment while working in the FIFO mining industry, with 36% of women and 10% of men having experienced some form of harassment. In response, BHP terminated or otherwise permanently removed forty eight workers from its sites.
- Rio Tinto
Rio Tinto, another Australian-based mining company, has also been recognized for its efforts to promote gender diversity and inclusivity in the sector. It is the world’s second-largest metals and mining corporation only behind BHP (Hotten, 2007). Although primarily focused on extraction of minerals, Rio Tinto also has significant operations in refining, particularly the refining of bauxite and iron ore (Rio Tinto Annual Report, 2021)
The company aims to attain gender balance by 2025, with specific emphasis on enhancing the representation of women in leadership roles. Rio Tinto has introduced various initiatives to accomplish this objective, such as the Women in Leadership program, which provides development and mentoring opportunities for women. In addition, the company has established targets for promoting gender diversity in its staff and has been acknowledged for its endeavours in rectifying the gender pay disparity within the company.
- Anglo American
Anglo American is a UK-based mining company that has also been recognized for its efforts to promote gender diversity and inclusivity in the sector. It is the world’s largest producer of platinum, with around 40% of global output, as well as being a major producer of diamonds, copper, nickel, iron ore and steelmaking coal. The company has operations in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and South America (Anglo American, Diversity and Inclusion, © 2023).
Anglo American has retained their place on the well-regard Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index (GEI) recording an overall score of 82.83% up from last year’s 81%. The company has appeared on the index for three years now. The 2023 GEI features 485 companies in 45 countries and regions across 11 sectors and 54 industries. To make it to the index, which is not ranked, companies are assessed by answering 70 questions under five headings: leadership and talent pipeline, gender pay and equal pay parity, inclusive culture, anti-sexual harassment policies, and pro-women brand (https://www.bloomberg.com/gei/).
Liz Douglas, the Group Head of HR – Corporate Functions and Inclusion and Diversity, commented; “We are very pleased to be included once again in this year’s Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index. Our increased overall score and strong performance in all five areas of measurements show that we continue to mature our approach to creating a fully inclusive workplace for everyone. Our female representation at Band 5 and above currently stands at 32%, on track to meet our target of 33% by the end of the year”
The company has implemented several initiatives, such as the Global Diversity and Inclusion program, which aims to create a more inclusive culture within the company. It is also known for its efforts in addressing issues regarding equal pay and gender pay parity and also for its anti-sexual harassment policies.
Newmont Corporation is a US-based gold mining company and it is also one of the companies that have been recognized as being gender-friendly. In addition to gold, Newmont mines copper, silver, zinc and lead. The company has set a goal of achieving gender parity in its workforce by 2030 and has implemented several initiatives to help them achieve this target (https://www.mining.com/newmont-goldcorp-provides-five-year-outlook/).
According to a blog post on the Newmont website, “inclusion and diversity are key values for Newmont, and the company continues to work to create an even more inclusive environment where employees can fully contribute, develop and work together to deliver on our strategy. Progressing an inclusive workspace culture is critical for tackling the challenge of retaining and attracting the most diverse top talent in the mining industry and maintaining our success globally.
“As part of this, Newmont continues to focus on achieving gender parity, elevating nationals in the countries where we operate, and maximizing employment opportunities for local and indigenous stakeholders”, the statement reads.
It further states that “Newmont has committed to making strategic and targeted investments i) to improve inclusion while increasing our diversity, especially within our operating sites, and ii) to implement targeted actions to accelerate female representation through 2030. For the third consecutive year, Newmont was one of 380 companies included in Bloomberg’s Gender-Equality Index (GEI). The GEI includes companies that are committed to an inclusive work environment, work-life balance and flexible work options.”
Newmont has implemented several programs, such as the Women in Leadership program, which aims to provide development and mentoring opportunities for women in the company. Since 2016, Newmont has been a part of ‘Paradigm for Parity’ – a coalition of business leaders committed to a 2030 deadline of creating workplaces where women and men have equal power, status and opportunity in senior leadership. In July 2021, Newmont’s President announced the full funding decision for the Ahafo North Project. The project’s aim and objective was to create 1,800 jobs in the Ahafo community and also to achieve gender parity in the workforce.
- Teck Resources
Teck Resources has also been recognized for its efforts to promote gender diversity and inclusiveness in the sector. It is a diversified natural resources company headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, that is engaged in mining and mineral development, including coal for the steelmaking industry, copper, zinc, and energy (https://www.teck.com/).
Teck Resources has been named in the 2023 Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index (GEI) for the sixth straight year. In a post on its website, the CEO, Jonathan Price states, “We know that a more diverse company is a stronger company, which is why we work to foster a workplace that respects and values diversity and where people feel engaged and supported. We are committed to supporting gender equality and are honoured to be named in the 2023 Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index”.
The GEI recognizes companies committed to advancing women in the workplace globally. Teck Resources was included in this year’s index scoring at or above the global threshold established by Bloomberg to reflect high levels of disclosure and overall performance across the framework’s pillars.
Teck Resources has implemented several programs, such as the Women’s Network, which aims to provide support and networking opportunities for women in the company.
Towards sustainable growth
In conclusion, promoting gender diversity and inclusion in the mining industry is essential for the long-term sustainability of the sector. The companies mentioned above have implemented various initiatives to encourage women to pursue careers in mining and promote inclusion and growth in the sector. By creating a more diverse and inclusive workforce, these companies can drive innovation and create a better future for all. However, there is still a long way to go in achieving true gender equality in the sector, and continued efforts are required to ensure that women receive equal opportunities, recognition, and representation in the mining industry, if global sustainable growth must be achieved.