Women in Mining (WA) recently held a panel discussion to consider a new guide launched by EY and Women in Mining (WIM) (UK), which answers the question - ‘Has mining discovered its next great resource?’ HopgoodGanim Lawyers attended the Panel discussion and found some insightful takeaways from that discussion and the new report.

The proven links between gender diversity on boards and better business performance - such as by securing at least 30% female representation on boards, companies increased net margins by up to 6% - provide practical motivation for businesses to increase their gender diversity, yet the report notes that women hold less than 10% of the board positions amongst the top 30 mining and metals companies (as at July 2016).

The guide details seven core principles and actions that all organisations in the mining sector, regardless of size, could consider adopting as part of their process to support women and retain and develop valuable talent within their organisations.

The principles identified are:

Lead with sponsorship, support with mentoring

  • Active sponsorship provides women with access to development opportunities that are not otherwise available, while mentorship ensures they are supported when pursuing these opportunities.

Have leaders lead the program

  • The initiatives that most effectively promote the progression of women are driven by senior management. The top-down approach from senior leadership improves funding, endorses inclusive best practices and draws management participation.

Encourage talent at all career stages

  • Advancing more women into leadership roles requires support at all career stages. Having systems to identify motivated individuals at all levels helps to maintain the talent pool of women and identify those who may require additional support when balancing their career with personal commitments.

Overcome the geographic disparity roadblock

  • Mining and metals companies face the unique challenge of attracting talent to remote operations. Geographic barriers make inclusive development initiatives even more essential to ensure individuals feel connected to the larger organisation and potential career opportunities. Trialling ideas in one location or region before rolling them out to the broader group and leveraging technology as a communications platform are two ways mining and metals companies can overcome this roadblock.

Measure the results

  • To build a strong platform for progress and showcase the business impact of gender diversity, mining and metals companies must first develop their own benchmarks to measure against and identify key performance indicators to track progress.

Empower individuals to help themselves

  • Mining and metals companies can empower women by providing mentoring tools, access to role models and sector groups and providing direction on career development. High-performing individuals will seek these tools, as well as the opportunities and encouragement they need to set their career on the right path.

Keep it low cost

  • In today’s current economic environment, investment in gender diversity programs is often met with resistance, but not all programs need to come with a steep price tag. Mining and metals companies should consider combining individual mentoring with existing HR-driven group development sessions, or using external organisations that facilitate networking or mentoring.

Navigating disruption now and in the future requires companies to tap into a range of opinions, ideas and experiences, and one way to gain a competitive advantage is to embrace gender diversity.