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With a strong commitment to sustainability, South Africa’s largest black empowered resource enterprise, Exxaro, says it strives to conduct business activities in a way that creates success not only for the company, but for society too.

“From how we mine to what we mine, we’re stewarding our natural assets and social capital and using them both to build happy, healthy communities for a better place to live,” the company states. But how exactly does Exxaro do this?

Health

Exxaro is committed to addressing the challenges of access to quality and affordable healthcare for its people. Given the importance of the health and wellness of its employees and contractors, Exxaro introduced the Occupational Health Incident Frequency Rate (OHIFR) two years ago and is driving awareness to improve the health of all its people.

Safety

The safety of the company’s employees and the communities where it operates are a priority. Exxaro aims to achieve zero injuries and zero fatalities by setting targets to improve safety performance each year. All its operational business units have international health and safety accreditation (OHSAS 18001).

Environment

Exxaro is a responsible corporate citizen and plays an active role in protecting and preserving the environment by reducing its carbon emissions footprint. The company ranked #1 in the ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) Rating Report on selected metrics for resource companies in 2018.

Education

To meet current and future skills requirements, Exxaro invests in its existing employees, future employees, and in the communities that provide its labour. At present, 99% of Exxaro’s labour is sourced in South Africa and, at any operation, over 70% is sourced from host communities. Exxaro’s education, bursary and skills development initiatives are geared towards empowering local communities to compete for positions in the company. And between 2008 and 2017, Exxaro spent just over R400 million on socio-economic development initiatives.

The feminine approach

The year 2019 set out to be a big one for Exxaro. The mining group’s constant drive for business excellence, greater efficiency and sustainability through innovation resulted in a fruitful report, according to its interim financial results for the past six months, which ended on 30 June 2019. As stated in the report by Dr Nombasa Tsengwa, executive head: Coal Operations, Exxaro distributed R75 million to suppliers, of which R30.5 million was allocated to majority female-owned businesses.

This enterprise and supplier development investment has led to the creation of 178 permanent jobs to the country’s economy. The resource company prides itself on powering possibilities for budding entrepreneurs, especially in sectors that promote sustainability and socio-economic development initiatives in the communities.

By supporting local suppliers, especially those that are run by women, Exxaro aims to break down societal barriers and usher in diversity-driven change. Historically speaking, it wasn’t until a few decades ago that women’s roles in the mining industry were even considered appropriate by the greater government. Article 2 of the International Labour Organisation’s Convention of 1935 prohibited the inclusion of women in underground mining, stating that “no female, whatever her age, shall be employed on underground work in any mine.”

Ensuring empowerment

More than just a mining business, Exxaro says it will continue to invest in impactful businesses to help empower the women within the organisation and beyond.

“Worldwide, history and research have proven that women’s economic empowerment increases their access to economic resources and opportunities including jobs, financial services, property and other productive assets, skills development and market information,” explains Tsengwa. “For South Africa, this outlook has translated itself into vast areas of development where women are taking the reins and actively contributing to their country’s development agenda.

South Africa’s economic empowerment mechanisms for promoting the status of women, fully utilising government resources and effectively mobilising social resources provided for by corporate SA, lay an important foundation in the promotion of gender equality and women’s development.”

Exxaro holds those committed to the same cause very close to its heart. It’s important now, more than ever, to empower women to inspire and develop their skills to become leaders in the mining sector. The primary objective of this approach is to improve the socioeconomic outlook, not only at a local and community level, but across the country and continent as a whole.

Exxaro asserts that it strives to dispel the gender bias in the mining sector. With the latest figures from Stats South Africa, showcasing the 51% female gender slant, it becomes almost negligent to ignore the potential of transformation in the economy. Not to mention, a recent report conducted by PwC revealed that approximately 21.05% of women sit on the boards of South Africa’s top 100 listed mining companies.

While this is a step in the right direction, there is still a lot more South Africa can do for gender empowerment.

Exxaro targets digital transformation of women

This year, Exxaro partnered with Ebonoko Foundation, Rebone Investment Holdings and Social Coding SA to expand the number of South African women who benefit from the digital transformation currently taking place in the world and South Africa.

The Exxaro #WomenIn4IR programme will provide South African women with mentoring as well as coding skills in a bid to improve women’s digital skills and acumen.

The programme comprised two-day workshops where top businesswomen provided advice on how to run technology companies. Attendees were also be provided with coding lessons.

“Powering better lives for South Africans is Exxaro’s mission and vision, and that is why we have prioritised upskilling women in technology. We know that the level of women who are currently participating in the technology sector is unacceptably low. If South Africa does not empower its women, we will never achieve the levels of development required to improve the lives of South Africans. Exxaro is determined to make a positive lasting impact on South Africa and the national economy by creating sustainable black-woman-owned technology businesses and to improve the technology skills of South Africa’s women,” says Lusapho Njenge, manager: Enterprise and Supplier Development at Exxaro.

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