Mining Industry has Long Way to go on Addressing DEI Issue

Sexual harassment in the mining industry is a serious issue, with the Western Australia Legislative Assembly lifting the lid on the problem in a wide-ranging report.
International Women's day brings lack of opportunities for women in the mining industry into sharp focus

As the world marks International Women’s Day, the lack of diversity and inclusion in the mining industry is brought into sharp focus.

Data from McKinsey shows that, when women choose to leave the mining industry, a fifth do so because of a lack of growth opportunities. The lack of career progression for women in mining is borne out by McKinsey data showing just 17.6% of mining boardrooms are women, meaning the industry lags behind every other sector in this regard.

Worldwide, women account for only 12% of the global mining workforce, according to a recent World Economic Forum study.  

The proportion of female graduates from mining engineering courses at US and Canadian universities, meanwhile, swings between 13% and 21% a year.

Meanwhile, a report from a prominent think tank in Canada, The Pembina Institute, shows the energy industry is one of the least equitable industries in Canada for women, and one of the largest drivers of the national wage gap. 

The report, published to mark International Women’s Day is called ‘Canada’s Energy-Fuelled Gender Gap’, and shows that in every sector of energy, including mining, women are both paid less and underrepresented across the workforce, including in leadership positions.

The Institute says women represent 51% of the Canadian population and 47% of its workforce, yet among energy workers they make up just a quarter of the workforce, with mining (16%) having the lowest representation.

Mining 'needs sustainable and equitable workforce'

It says government and industry “play a central role in channelling the investments necessary to create a sustainable, equitable workforce that offers good, well-paying jobs”.

It adds: “Our report examines pay equity within the sector, shines a light on persistent issues surrounding the representation of women and gender diverse populations, and explores the potential for a more equitable workforce in the evolving clean energy transition.” 

Sexual harassment in the mining industry is another issue, with the Western Australia Legislative Assembly lifting the lid on the problem in 2022 in wide-ranging 178-page report.  

On a more positive note, Danielle Martin – Co-Chief Operating Officer & Director, Social Performance with  the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) – says International Women's Day is “an opportunity to celebrate the momentum that is building on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the industry”, and adds that the day “gives us a chance to pause and reflect on what still needs to be done”. 

On that note, she points out that last year, ICMM members announced a collective commitment to improve DEI by working collaboratively to enhance the experiences of workers, and to eradicate discrimination, harassment, and assault from workplaces. 

“We undoubtedly still have a way to go,” she said, speaking to Mining Magazine. “But every step we're seeing is in the right direction. I encourage the wider industry to join us in adopting this commitment and continue to raise the bar on performance.”