A Geological Divide

By Koko Yamamoto

The changing face of the mining industry.

I was speaking with a client recently. She had organized a meeting of geologists, and the final guest, who happened to be male, walked into the room. Upon looking around, he apologized and promptly walked out. She could only assume that, because the room was full of women, he thought he had walked into the wrong place. Possibly for the first time in his career, he was the only man in the room.

We mused that it might be beneficial for all men to have this “only man” experience and gain some insight as to how some women feel when we walk into an Audit Committee or Board meeting. There is no doubt that progress is being made, but we are not there yet, particularly when it comes to specific industries, like mining.

Women in mining

Women in mining

The winds of change are sweeping through the mining industry. Whether it is the advances in AI and autonomous vehicles in exploration, the aging mostly male baby boomer generation moving steadily into retirement, or the falling metal prices putting pressure on efficiencies and competition. As for diversity in the board-room, women have crossed one hurdle by making it into the room. But it should not end there.

Most commonly, women have to provide more evidence of their competence than men

“Most commonly, women have to provide more evidence of their competence than men, and they have their judgment questioned in their area of expertise. They are also twice as likely as men to have been mistaken for someone in a more junior position.” leanin.org/women-in-the-workplace

According to Bloomberg, only 15% of people employed in the mining industry are women, and this drops to 5% at management levels. Despite efforts to attract more women into a rewarding and challenging sector, women continue to be under-represented at all levels. While it is easy to point the finger at a sector traditionally defined by the worn and weathered faces of hard-working men, the accounting industry also has its work to do.

McGovern Hurley encourages diversity and inclusion at all levels of our firm. When I was first admitted to the partnership, I was the only woman at the table. Currently, four of our ten partners are women, which is a marked improvement and better reflection of the composition of our staff. We hope that we can continue to be a leader in this area and reap the benefits of inclusion.

“When we welcome diversity, we open the doors for new ideas and new ways of thinking. Inclusion is the key to unlocking the value that diversity brings.” – Laura Methot, I&D 101, an inclusion and diversity consulting firm and McGovern Hurley client.