International Women's Day: Anglo American

By Daniel Brightmore
Learn how Anglo American is seeking to address the lack of gender parity in the mining industry in response to the theme of this year's IWD campaign...

Today, women account for approximately 16% of the mining industry -something Anglo American is keen to change. For International Women’s Day 2021 the company responded to the theme #ChooseToChallenge by speaking to some of the inspiring women behind its success in a bid to encourage other women to pursue a career in mining.

Redressing the Balance

Mining encompasses many disciplines and professions and can only improve with the inclusion of different perspectives and skill sets said Jen Williams, Interface Manager at the Woodsmith Project in the UK: “For all the decades I’ve been in engineering, there’s still not that many women coming through and I think that’s a shame. I think women are missing out on a really exciting career.”

Anglo American’s goal is to create an inclusive workplace where every colleague can contribute. Many of those interviewed talked about the challenges they had encountered as women in the industry and what they wished they had known earlier in their careers. “I wish someone had told me when I started my career to be more confident about what I bring to the table,” said Nolitha Fakude, Group Director - South Africa, “And also to understand that I can add value and that my unique contributions are actually appreciated.”

Asked about some of the biggest challenges women face Paulina Jaramillo, Head of Asset Strategy and Reliability for Anglo’s copper business, replied: “I think being treated as an equal, recognition that you are not in the position you are in because the company is trying to reach a certain quota of women but that you recognise and value your knowledge, capabilities and experience.”

Anglo American accepts there is work to be done to welcome more women into the industry and has set a target of 33% female representation by 2023 at all management levels, in every business unit and group function.

The miner is aiming to ensure its people feel fully supported throughout their careers. “The biggest challenge for me was when I had children and was away from work for extended periods of time,” said Anushika Bhana, from the Commercial Strategy Team in Singapore. “But I was lucky enough to have great support from Anglo American. They kept me connected and made my transition back into the workplace seamless.” 

That support now includes a robust policy framework, colleague networks, apprenticeships, a global mentoring programme and a zero-tolerance approach to bullying, harassment and victimisation.


Looking to the Future

Advice for future women in mining, from women in mining…

  • “Challenge change, be creative in your problem solving, but most importantly, enjoy what you do and acknowledge the people you are privileged to do it with.” - Stephanie Liggins, Principal Scientist, Element Six
  • “Don’t try and fit someone else’s version of what success is. You decide what that looks like and you go and achieve it.” - Zaheera Soomar, Head of Education
  • “You will have to learn to put yourself forward. You will also need to be bold, brave and courageous and be your authentic self.” - Salima Shariff, Head of Talent Acquisition
  • “Your health and your family should always be your priority. Never ever compromise or sacrifice either of those.” - Froydis Cameron, Group Head of International and Government Relations

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