Mineral Exploration

Winter 2020

Mineral Exploration is the official publication of the Association of Mineral Exploration British Columbia.

Issue link: http://digital.canadawide.com/i/1319479

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Page 40 of 47

W inte r 2020 41 Spoiler: Yes, some, but not as quickly as you may think By KYLIE WILLIAMS Are We Making Progress on Diversity and Inclusion? C hange is hard. Think back to the time, decades ago, when safety was not a top priority for mineral explorers. How did we move forward to today, where every meeting starts with a safety share, and every field day starts with a toolbox meeting? We critically analyzed the risks and decided the business and personal consequences of maintaining the status quo were not acceptable. Over many years, champions for health and safety worked tirelessly to raise awareness and introduce a new vocabulary around risks, hazards and controls. Senior managers led by example and insisted that health and safety be a priority, ingrained in our culture. The small number of incidents and reported near misses provide a constant reminder of that priority. Now, we must apply the same effort and energy to improving diversity, equity and inclusion. Progress? The data says otherwise On the surface, we appear to have made modest gains, particularly concerning gender diversity. Before the 1960s, there were close to zero women in mineral exploration roles, and today, around 15 per cent. This is progress, but the industry remains over 80 per cent male in almost all categories, particularly in senior roles. The disconnect between verified data and individual perception of progress is a major stumbling block. According to McKinsey & Company's 2017 "Women in the Workforce" report, many employees think women are well represented in leadership when they see only a few. Any urgency to change is calmed if we can list a handful of successful women. In exploration and mining, the names Eira Thomas, president and CEO of Lucara Diamond, Michelle Ash, former chief innovation officer at Barrick Gold, Cynthia Carroll, former CEO of Anglo American, and our own Kendra Johnston, president and CEO of AME, are often cited examples. If a few women have broken through the glass ceiling, it is easy to think that the barriers women face no longer exist. This acceptance of small deviations from the norm lies in stark response to the rapid response a single safety breach receives. Organic vs. systemic change Any assumption that mineral exploration and mining companies can maintain the status quo and inclusion and diversity will naturally increase without additional effort is false, explains Jamile Cruz, engineer and founder of diversity and inclusion consulting company, I&D 101. "There is nothing organic about the way we manage health and safety today," says Cruz, noting, for example, the prescriptive health and safety signage at every mine, office and exploration project in our industry. These signs do not simply say "use your judgement" but issue specific instructions in response to identified hazards, right down to handrail use and wearing certain personal protective equipment. Over the past two decades, Cruz transitioned through various roles as an engineer on major mining projects, including Voisey's Bay, into a consultant helping companies build diversity goals into overall business strategy, working with leaders to shape inclusive workplace cultures. "It became very clear, the higher I got, how lonely I was, first through the gender lens and then, even though Toronto is very diverse, through a race lens," says Cruz. "Gender, ethinic and other aspects of diversity are definitely not reflected at the executive levels in mining companies." Cruz says that progress on diversity and inclusion will gain momentum when we recognize the difference between organic and systemic change. Building forward momentum Cruz uses a change maturity curve to explain our progress. Over the course of any significant structural change, an organization will progress from inactive, through reactive and active, to proactive and to the end goal of dynamic integration. "The industry as a whole is still moving from inactive to reactive," says Cruz, characterizing inactive as a person embarking on a new exercise and eating regimen who knows they are supposed to be eating fruits and vegetables and exercising, but sits on the sofa, wishing for a healthier lifestyle. "Now, apply the same approach to inclusion and diversity in mining," says Cruz. "Are we doing the basic steps needed to call ourselves an inclusive industry and to achieve our goals?" To move forward, says Cruz, we need to make the required changes to our systems so they deliver the outcomes we Barriers to diversity, equity and inclusion are not limited to women. Other underrepresented groups, including Indigenous people, immigrants, people of colour, people with disabilities and LGBTQ+ people, face similar barriers. This article discusses women specifically because data is more readily available.

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