In recent years, Peruvian mining directly employed some 175,000 people, including specialized contractors, of which only 12,000 are women.
On the other hand, a study at the University of Queensland shows that the percentage of women in engineering careers has increased and in many cases, women have better academic performance than their male counterparts. If this is the case in the classroom, what is happening is that many well-prepared women are not being incorporated into the mining workforce.
However, although worldwide mining is an industry in which men have predominated, several years ago companies have realized the importance of encouraging the incorporation and retention of more women. There are visible signs of these efforts when we observe covers of company reports with photographs of women miners, or slogans alluding to their goals as “20% of women by 2020” in large mining companies in the world.
The main reasons why mining companies should increase their quota of women are:
Less rotation and greater motivation. Each time a worker resigns, they incur high costs of re-training the new person who holds the position and their productivity is low. In studies carried out in Chile, the United States and Australia it has been found that given the more significant barriers that women have to face in order to be selected by mining companies, the few chosen ones demonstrate high levels of commitment and motivation, they are very concerned to show their skills and has much lower turnover, greater motivation, better teamwork and communication increasing labor productivity. In a case study of the IFC of the El Soldado mine in Chile, it was found that by focusing recruitment on the search for a higher number of female applicants,
Better decisions, better results. If there are few women in the mining operation, there are even fewer women in management positions. However, it is demonstrated that women incorporate greater variety to the management team and the board, their points of view can enrich the discussion and generate innovation in groups traditionally of men. The decisions of the boards with only men were based on the traditional ways of analyzing costs and benefits, while women were more inclined to question the assumptions and seek consensus and collaboration. In studies conducted by IFC, Credit Suisse, McKinsey & Co., and The Reibey InstituteIt were found that companies that have female directors obtained four more points in the ROE, higher growth rate and 0.6 times more in the value of their shares.
For demographic reasons. In some countries, the industry will have to face the consequences of an increasingly aging population, with a declining birth rate, which will affect the availability of young talents. Likewise, the World Bank has analyzed global demographic trends at 50 years, finding that, if the current female employment rate is maintained, the economically active population would decrease by 14%, while if more women enter employment, the decrease will be only 5% According to the IMF, incorporating women into the economy of countries with meager female job could generate an increase of more than 10% of their GDP. In that context, Mining companies must anticipate demographic trends by defining policies that make it possible to lift the obstacles that prevent greater incorporation and retention of women. To achieve this, it is necessary to retrain the managers who decide the policies in favor of the recruitment and retention of women, sensitize them so that they realize that it is good to do so because it will improve productivity.
Social responsibility and corporate image. In mining, the employment of women can be addressed as a matter of justice and equity. If companies advocate equal rights, women should be able to access the same opportunities as men in the economic sphere and assume responsibilities according to their growing formation and their specific weight in society. For this reason, mining companies have proposed ambitious programs to improve recruitment, avoiding prejudices when choosing, developing the infrastructure that facilitates the work of women in the camps and suggesting high goals of incorporation and retention of women.
Examples are needed for other young women. For mining to reach the ambitious goals of incorporating more women, it is necessary to have women in key positions to demonstrate that women can achieve prominent positions if they are given the opportunity to work in mining having received an education similar to that of women — the men. Likewise, in the social support programs that the company fosters, they could also emphasize support for women and identify women leaders who serve as examples.
Finally, to achieve the benefits mentioned, companies must understand and modify the factors that explain this low number of women in their workforce. These are: 1) the “disguised” stereotypes still existing in former miners that when they decide who to hire prefer men, 2) the lack of investment inadequate infrastructure to provide the minimum conditions for women’s work, such as bathrooms and female dressing rooms, 3) the lack of clear policies to improve the recruitment and retention of women.