Has Gender Diversity Changed Within The Mining Industry?
Historically known as a male-dominated sector, today, the #mining industry has reached a critical point where a drastically changing social and political environment is forcing the industry to adapt to make progress. With the emergence of new #technologies making mining greener, cleaner, safer and more efficient, the vastly growing industry has increased the spotlight on the underrepresentation of women in the industry.
Studies have shown that there is a positive correlation between business growth and #gender #diversity. Companies with a more equal balance of both male and female workers showed overall better performance: better safety, more efficiency, added sustainability and higher profit margins. Companies with a more gender-equal workplace outdid companies with an all-male board by 17-26% over a six-year period in their stock market performance from a 2012 Credit Suisse Research Institute Report.
Despite all of these facts however, the traditional make-up of the mining #workforce is slow to change. In fact, according to a study done in 2013 the global imbalance is quite staggering compared to many other sectors. #Women make up 5-10% of the mining workforce globally, and of the top 500 mining companies globally, a small 7% of all directorships are held by women. In addition to this only 1% of women hold top executive positions within mining #companies.
There has long been a negative perception surrounding mining which is thought to be one of the main factors which has led to low #female participation in past. The perception has been that mining is a ‘man’s job’ because of the physical strength needed for a large portion of the work; however, this is far from the truth in modern day mining. In addition, the lack of female role models in the industry makes it difficult for young aspiring females to have anyone to look up to.
Luckily, these issues have been recognized and positive steps have been taken to amend them. The emergence of #scholarships to fund #STEM subjects has increased considerably in 2017. De Beers #Canada, for example, recently launched 4 new scholarships for STEM subjects. In addition to this, De Beers’ has committed to providing $639,000 to STEM scholarships for female students throughout 2020, with another 16 scholarships at the University of Waterloo. Similarly, the #Maaden Mining Co recently announced plans for a new women’s #training program to develop the mining skills of Saudi women.
Companies like #Covergalls Workwear have also created positive steps to encouraging increased female #participation in the mining industry. The company recognized the lack of garments designed to comfortably fit women workers, and provide coveralls for women in unconventional careers such as mining. With unique features like a rear trap door for easier bathroom breaks and tailored fit, women can feel confident stepping into the workplace.
Throughout 2017 we have seen the industry not only encourage women to gain the skills required to join the mining industry, but also BHP Billiton Ltd, one of the world’s largest mining companies, has started to actively recruit female talent to reduce gender gaps by increasing the number of women it employs. A staggering 1,800 women have already been recruited to BHP Billiton Ltd as they strive to achieve their target of a 50% female workforce by 2025.
It is promising to see so many positive steps in the past few years to resolve the gender gap in the mining industry. Of course, much more still needs to be done in order to ensure complete gender diversity, but it great to see that more scholarships are being offered to provide women with the necessary skills to be successful in the mining industry, more jobs becoming available for women to fill, and companies who are willing to design supportive products for them. Hopefully in the years to come we will be able to say that the mining industry is an industry of gender diversity and no longer just a ‘man’s job’.
Source: Global Mining Standards, PwC, Covergalls Workwear