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Changing the landscape: Diversity in the mining sector

 September 10, 2015

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While in the past, mining was a male-dominated industry, today the sector’s leading companies view diversity as a business imperative.

Despite progress in recent years, women are still under-represented in the industry; a fact leading mining and metals company Rio Tinto has been working hard to address through its Group-wide Inclusion and Diversity programme.

Keeping work and life in sync

“Our business has a lot to offer women in terms of challenging work, a focus on innovation, and the experience you gain through working for a global company,” says Rio Tinto’s Sara Worrell, principal adviser, Inclusion and Diversity. “But we know flexibility is also important; our employees’ needs change over time and we need to help them keep their work and life in sync.”

Sara says this goes beyond a supportive parental leave policy, to ensuring the Group provides options like part-time work, job sharing, working from home, and flexible hours. “Our strong female role models, and formal and informal mentoring programmes, are also important in creating a more diverse and inclusive culture.”

Rio Tinto women’s talent recognised

Rio Tinto women have been strongly represented in both national and international awards and scholarship programmes. Five featured in Women in Mining’s 2016 Global inspirational women in mining report. Another, Zara Fisher, was the second of the Group’s female senior leaders to be awarded a prestigious INSEAD scholarship through the Chief Executive Women Scholars programme. And Joanne Farrell, Group executive, Health, Safety & Environment, was recognised in the 2016 Australian Financial Review & Westpac 100 Women of Influence Awards.

Forging an inclusive environment

Sara says Rio Tinto focuses on building an inclusive culture that values individual differences. The driver is not purely gender equality, but a recognition that diversity makes good business sense. “Research shows that gender-balanced teams create better outcomes, including improved financial performance. And the benefits of diversity extend beyond gender - nationalities, backgrounds, working styles and many other characteristics all help bring a depth of views, skills and experiences to the table. So our leaders are not only expected to build diversity into their teams, but create an inclusive environment where different perspectives are valued,” explains Sara. 

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