- Remote site
- Mar 12 2014
Over the past decade the mining industry in Australia has seen extraordinary growth. While traditionally it has been a male-dominated industry, this growth and the creation of jobs has made it more imperative that our recruitment process and job environment be more inclusive and that we remove barriers that might be somehow excluding 50% of the population..
As we began to more actively recruit female workers and professionals, we started to have regular discussions and forums that look at how we can make the workplace more inclusive and tackle some of the biases around the workplace. While the original goal was to improve the environment for female workers, the resulting changes really benefit the entire workforce.
We began changing policies around parental leave and childcare provisions to improve the retention rate of our female employees and enable women to plan their careers around the advent of children. Today, our male employees not only have the right to take paternity leave, but this practice is becoming accepted amongst their peers as well as the organization. People are seeing that raising children is a responsibility that can be shared and it’s not just the woman’s job to stay home and bring up the children.
These types of changes in policy bring about change in the work environment for both men and women. When I started in this industry 28 years ago, the workplace, even for a male, was an intimidating place. From harassment, bullying, intimidation and non-inclusive behavior – there were a lot of practices that we just don’t accept in the today‘s workplace. As more women began entering the workforce, this has changed remarkably. From my point of view it has improved the quality of life at work for all our employees.
Gender diversity also brings new ideas. Creating an inclusive workplace is a precursor to having greater thought diversity within leadership and work groups that ultimately leads to richer ideas and more innovative ways of solving problems.
When I look at where we were 20 years ago, as a father, I couldn’t have encouraged my daughter to join the mining industry – I wouldn’t have wanted her working in that environment. But we have come a long way. Today, I know that she can have the same opportunities as her brother.
I hope that the next generation won’t have to set targets for gender balance or gender pay equity; that these policies won’t stand out as being gender-based policy, but rather, just be an overall framework of the organization. This is going to remain challenging for a while, but the fact that we’re talking about it, writing articles about it – this brings the issue from the unconscious to the conscious and gets the wheels of change turning.
Managing Director Pilbara mines, Rio Tinto Iron Ore, Australia
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