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The Minerals Council South Africa has released a White Paper on Women in Mining, which aims to streamline the industry’s strategies to advance women in the industry.

The focus of the White Paper is on improving the representation of women in the sector and encouraging leaders to make decisions that are in the best interest of women.

The White Paper forms part of ongoing work that the Minerals Council, together with its tripartite partners in government and organised labour, is doing to promote gender diversity and inclusion at all levels in the workplace. It makes provision for ensuring that women are given ample opportunity to achieve their full potential at work and prioritises the closing of the gender pay gap. The importance of policies and programmes that advance and protect women, including those that address gender based violence and sexual harassment, is also emphasised.

Women make up 12% of the mining industry, which places the industry behind others in the country. South Africa also lags behind other mining countries such as Australia and Canada, whose representation of women in mining sits at 17% and 16% respectively.

“The participation of women in business has been shown to
positively influence the bottom line of companies and to contribute to enhanced sustainability,” said Deshnee Naidoo, CEO, Vedanta Zinc International and the Minerals Council board member championing this initiative. “In the mining industry in particular, gender-inclusive workplaces have also been shown to be safer.”

Naidoo was nominated by the Minerals Council Board to lead the development of the initiative, and Dr Thuthula Balfour, Head: Health, leads the project from within the Minerals Council.

Naidoo added that she took the responsibility of gender transformation in the mining industry very seriously. “The true potential of the mining industry will be unleashed when we reach the goal of a 50/50 gender split – that is when we will begin to realise creating a net positive effect as an industry,” Naidoo said.

The White Paper offers an action plan for member companies to follow in order to address this issue proactively. It stresses the need for diversity and inclusion programmes that specifically include men, for the inclusion of women in mining to be part of KPIs in senior management performance plans, and for workplaces to be reviewed and adapted to ensure that women’s needs are catered for. It also pushes for women-focused job shadowing, training, recruitment, retention and succession planning interventions, and the need for collaborations with other partners that advance the cause of women in mining.

“A Minerals Council survey conducted in 2019 found that successful women in mining strategies are those that are led by CEOs,” said Dr Balfour. “And we will be depending on the industry’s leaders to execute this strategy.”

Minerals Council CEO, Roger Baxter, noted that addressing gender imbalances, and creating workplaces that are fair and safe for men and women, have long been a focus of the Minerals Council. This revitalised programme builds on the work we have done, and that the companies have done, in the past, but seeks to accelerate and elevate it into the future.

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