The Minerals Council Women in Mining initiative was launched in March 2020 to streamline the mining sector’s strategies to advance women in mining by focusing on progressing women representation and encouraging decisions that are in the best interest of both women and industry.
Purpose and mission
Increasing women’s representation and ensuring that the mining sector is a safe environment for women to work, realise their career ideals and thrive is a Minerals Council strategic goal. The strategic objectives are set by Minerals Council leadership in collaboration with member companies’ leaders to ensure the stretch targets set out in the project strategy are achieved and that the initiative remains a key priority for all.
The work of the Women in Mining project team, the Women in Mining Leadership Forum and Task Team, and our member companies means that this goal remains front and centre of everything that we do.
- Nolitha Fakude: Chair of the WiM Leadership Forum
- Dr Thuthula Balfour: Project Lead
- Boitumelo Nkomo: Project Specialist
The Women in Mining Leadership Forum (WiMLF) was established in 2020 to provide the strategic direction for the consolidated industry actions to eliminate the challenges faced by women in mining and increase the attraction, retention, and promotion of women in the mining sector. Under the leadership of Ms Nolitha Fakude, President of the Minerals Council and Chair of the Women in Mining leadership forum, the WiMLF is made up of member company CEO’s, Senior Executives and leaders who are committed to the transformation of the South African mining sector and creating a safe, diverse, equitable and inclusive working environment for all. The actions that the WiMLF is involved in to create a diverse and inclusive mining industry involve:
- Encourage gender equality and inclusion at all levels, from top management to the least qualified employees
- Empower women in realizing their full potential and reducing the gender pay gap in overall compensation and bonuses.
- Establish policies and initiatives that benefit and protect women, such as those that address sexual harassment, gender-based violence, and alternate maternity care.
- Implement workplace modifications to accommodate women, such as installing restrooms; sanitary bins and emergency sanitary pads; lockable restrooms; changing rooms; child-care and lactation rooms; ensuring the safety of women (by enhancing security, avoiding crowded cages, and installing alarms and cameras).
- Acknowledge and accommodate the various physical capabilities of women.
The proactive efforts of the Women in Mining Leadership Forum (WiMLF) exemplify a strong commitment by the industry to sustainable mining in South Africa. Through a range of strategic actions, including promoting gender equality, empowering women, establishing protective policies, and enhancing workplace facilities, the WiMLF demonstrates its unwavering commitment to a safe and inclusive working environment. By boldly addressing gender-related challenges and actively supporting women in the industry, the WiMLF’s actions pave the way for a more sustainable and socially responsible mining sector that values the contributions of all its members.
Women make up 15% of the mining industry, which places the industry behind others in the country (Department of Labour, 2018). South Africa also lags behind other mining countries such as Australia and Canada, which, though still relatively low, have a slightly higher representation of women in mining 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. Critically for mining companies, gender-inclusive workplaces also lend themselves to being safer (WIM Canada, 2016). Mining companies are becoming increasingly aware of both the business and moral imperative of enhancing the representation of women across all levels and are attempting to increase the numbers of women through various initiatives. While there has been much improvement in business in general, the mining industry still struggles to attract and retain women at all levels of employment.
“Industry-wide commitment with a clear ambition, strategy and action plan towards gender equality in mining and pilot initiatives being kicked-off”