Mining, women and smarter business practices

If mining companies had (more) women on their boards, would they be better at stakeholder engagement?

I think the answer is clearly yes.

Why does this matter?

It matters because stakeholder engagement is vital if you want a sustainable license to operate in mining.

All mining companies are now realising that license to operate is now a business strategy.

Stray too far from the path of acceptable behaviour and you lose your assets, and your access to capital.

So license to operate is vitally important.

And stakeholder engagement is crucial to this. Find out why, here

It’s also fair to say that more diverse, female-balanced boards, are better at stakeholder engagement.

But look at the numbers: “Mining is the worst sector for gender diversity, with just 5 percent of
board seats in the top 500 mining companies held by women, according to a
recent report published by Women in Mining and PriceWaterhouse Coopers.”

So why do mining companies have so few women on their boards, if license to operate matters so much?

It’s because of two things:

1) They haven’t made the above connections yet.
2) Old attitudes die hard. Generational change in mining management is needed.

Here’s some further reading, and some compelling stats on board diversity in mining.

A smart mining company will see the writing on the wall and broaden horizons.


  1. Is this really a gender issue or an issue of experience in the field? I imagine a significant proportion of those male board members have experience in technical fields or in corporate fields like accounting etc. Not fields renowned for exceptional engagement skills.

  2. I guess that's the point: They do not have enough diversity to understand ever more diverse risk issues…


  3. I feel very uncomfortable with the idea that having women on the board will somehow magically make the company better at understanding the way the general public sees them – which is what I'm guessing the jargon phrase 'stakeholder engagement' means, in so far as it means anything. I am a woman and I certainly don't feel this gives me any automatic insight into anything. Is there not a danger that making these assumptions about diversity is taking us back to biological determinism by a roundabout route?

  4. Hi Elaine,

    To me, stakeholder engagement is not just about "understanding the way the general public sees them" but covers many other areas too. For example, it's clear that too many middle aged white men in a room results in problematic decisions, group think etc. Diversity helps prevent this. There's also the issue of empathy, of social justice, of many issues that impact stakeholder views / community views of a large company, particularly in mining. I'm not anti middle aged white men particularly (I'll be one myself in five years) but it's clear that groups from similar demographics do not have the breadth of views, over time, that a more diverse group would have.

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