“In an era where innovation is highly prized, environments that foster diversity will come up trumps.”
Globally, only 1 in 5 businesses have a female CEO or senior manager, and this holds true for smaller businesses than the big companies who have even fewer women, except for countries like Thailand and Cambodia where you can find more women running companies than men.
Better representation of women in business is vital to promote diversity and enhances communication, teamwork, greater innovation, improved decision-making, and increased productivity.
It is no news that the mining industry is male dominated. Despite the focus on diversity and inclusion in the last two decades, women continue to be vastly under-represented at all levels. A recent research by Bloomberg has shown that the mining industry only hires up to 15% women, and their number in the management level is highly insignificant. Just one in 20 global businesses is headed by a woman – it is that bad.
The mining industry is lagging behind in terms of gender equality. According to a report by Forbes in 2018, the industry has the second-largest median gender pay gap in the UK at 24.9%, coming after construction at 27%. Companies with good representation of women are known to be more creative, innovative and profitable. The benefits that women inclusion bring has been widely acknowledged, leaving me wondering why the sector is not tapping into this invaluable resource. Anyways, this is the reality that we face. The question is what can be done to address the gender gap?
The mining industry has a long history built on hard labour, grit and perseverance, reinforcing a system that disproportionately reveres masculine identity. This identity has waning relevance in today’s rapidly changing world. Mining companies and other large organisations that have traditionally followed a ‘command-and-control’ or hierarchical, masculine-centric leadership model — often described as assertive, controlled, dominant or competitive — will need to change this mindset if they want to remain competitive for long.
The way to go – in my opinion – is to encourage increased women participation and benefits from the industry, infuse gender considerations in policies and programmes that will enhance women participation and ensure women and girls are protected in this male-centric industry, and inspire and motivate more women to take up active roles.
As the pace of change in the industry accelerates, a paradigm shift is emerging. The adoption of technology could serve as a positive catalyst for diversity, by demystifying roles that were hitherto considered to suit only men. As the mining industry recognises the need for leaders who can engage and motivate teams more powerfully, the new focus should be on nurturing transformation that can help the industry become gender sensitive.
This is a call to women to step forward and take up leadership roles. The mining industry needs you. It is time to embrace change, time to take your rightful place.