Women in Mining: New milestone for BHP, but will others follow suit?

Mining companies across the world are trying to make their workforce more inclusive and diverse. BHP, one of the world’s biggest mining companies, announced recently that women now make up a quarter of its 31,500-strong workforce.

Percentage of women making up the workforce are gradually rising, but is the transformation taking place fast enough?

The target is ambitious – BHP wants to achieve a 50-50 gender balance by the year 2025. The annual report pointed out that as of June 2020, there has been a 2 per cent increase in the number of women working in the company over the past twelve months.

BHP isn’t alone in trying to make mining an attractive industry for women. Many other top mining companies have seen the numbers of women working for them increase over the years.

Historically, the numbers have been low. A PwC report on the matter stated, “Estimates suggest that women comprise only 10% of the global mining workforce. This undoubtedly contributes to the small number of women in senior management positions, with women occupying only 5% of the board positions at the top 500 mining companies.” This report was published in 2013 and companies have been making attempts to become more inclusive and diverse over the past few years.

“Female representation in the mining industry averages anywhere between 5-15 per cent. The majors are leading the chart on that but there is plenty more to go,” said Carole Cable, Brunswick Partner and Chair of Women in Mining UK during a seminar held on inclusion and diversity, hosted by the London Metal Exchange.

Pamela Jones, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Genesis Consultancy reflected on diversity in the financial sector more generally. “I have been in financial service for 25 years. When I joined, I was the only black woman on the trading floor and when I left the industry at the end of last year, there were two black people on the trading floor.”

“This is quite upsetting. There are more conversations around D&I (diversity and inclusion) now, but it is in the doing that is woefully lacking,” she said.

A Financial Times report said that other mining companies had the following percentages of women working for them: Fortescue Metals Group (19.4 per cent), Rio Tinto (18.4 per cent) and Vale (13 per cent).

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