Celebrating women working in mining

On 8 March, 2013, a delegation of female members of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) met Prime Minister Julia Gillard, urging her government to help fill gaps in the workforce by encouraging greater female participation in traditionally male-dominated industries.

Lorraine Usher, the secretary of the CFMEU?s women?s committee and a co-leader of the delegation, said it was vital for the Federal Government to support greater employment opportunities for women in non-traditional trades and occupations.

?Women make up 51 per cent of the population but only 11.7 per cent of the jobs in the mining, construction, forestry and manufacturing industries,? she told the Prime Minister. ?It?s essential for local workers, especially women, to have a legally enforceable right to local jobs.?

?That includes requiring companies to provide training and opportunities for local women before they look to engage temporary foreign labour,? added Lucy Balta, a tower crane driver.

But before the training and opportunities comes another important factor to ensure that Australian women recognise the option of a career in the industry.

25 per cent by 2020
The Australian Women in Resources Alliance (AWRA) is rolling out a number of workforce initiatives designed to help employers attract and retain more women in the workplace, the ultimate goal being for women to comprise 25 per cent of the resource industry by 2020.

This initiative, run by resource industry employer group the Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA), with support from the Australian Government, is uniting a wide range of industry organisations and professional women?s groups as employers seek to fill their demand for talented workers.

?Australia?s resource industry is forecasting a skills shortage of 90,000 workers by 2016. Employers across our mining, oil and gas sectors understand how critically important women are to filling this skills demand,? said AMMA director of group services Tara Diamond.

?We are starting to see some promising results, with hundreds of women from across the Australian resource industry having signed up for the AWRA e-Mentoring Program. This program means women entering a resource career have access to both male and female mentors through this innovative online portal.?

Resource employers are also preparing to meet at the inaugural AWRA conference on 14 May, 2013 to progress practical solutions to increasing women?s participation in the resource workforce.

?Industry-operated recruitment website AMMA is the place for women to begin researching about the resource industry and applying directly to employers for a job,? Diamond said.

?Not only does AMMA have 1600 vacant positions currently listed, the website?s Careers and Industry Guide contains more than 1000 pages of up to date information covering job descriptions, lifestyle guides, training and apprenticeship information, and job interview tips.?

Employer of choice for women
One resources company that has made a concerted and now recognised effort is Xstrata. Xstrata?s Mount Isa Mines has been recognised as the resources sector employer of choice for women after winning the Best Company Initiative award at the 2013 Queensland Resources Council (QRC) Resources Awards for Women (RAW).

This was announced on International Women?s Day and recognises the contribution and achievement of women in the resources sector and honours organisations showing leadership in attracting and retaining women in the mining industry.

Xstrata?s campaign to promote career pathways for women in mining includes extensive training programs and support initiatives to overcome the obstacles that discourage, limit or prevent women from entering and staying in the industry. Since 2007, Xstrata?s employment of women has grown by almost 40 per cent, compared with its overall workforce growth of 16 per cent.

 ?A diverse workforce allows us to unearth innovative ways to improve the efficiency and safety of our activities, and ultimately the sustainability of our operations over the long term,? said Steve de Kruijff, the chief operating officer for Xstrata Copper North Queensland.

?We do not define targets for the employment or promotion of women. Our success in growing our female workforce comes down to us attracting the highest potential talent, building their capabilities to deliver our business strategy and fostering high performance. This ethos applies to all of our people regardless of gender,? Brian Hearne chief operating officer Xstrata Zinc Australia explained.

Caltex Australia, which employs about 3500 people around Australia, is also making progress in its efforts to improve workforce diversity. About 34 per cent of Caltex’s employees are women, up from 30 per cent the previous year. It sets regular goals to bridge the gender gap. Its success is the result of a comprehensive package of measures to achieve change.

Caltex also holds regular networking events. All senior staff has undertaken training to recognise unconscious bias. It has also introduced more family friendly work practices.

But Caltex’s efforts to bring about change weren’t without complications. The company said its endeavours have not gone without question from employees, both men and women, but its diversity strategy is gaining momentum.

Sources: CFMEU, Australian Women in Resources Alliance, Media Corp International, Xstrata

Leave a Reply

Send this to a friend