Andrew Mackenzie, CEO of mining company BHP Billiton, released a statement on Thursday stating that half of his workforce will be female by 2025.
The ambitious move would mark a dramatic restructuring of the typically male-dominated industry, as BHP’s workforce is currently just 17% female.
Mackenzie unveiled the plan to 65,000 staff on the eve of its annual meeting, stating that the “aspirational goal” for a gender diverse workplace would make the business more accountable and would alter male bias in the mining industry.
“I’ve heard the concerns: some employees think inclusion and diversity is not an area where we can make significant progress; some think women don’t want to work in the mining industry, and some male employees have concerns they may be discriminated against, or that they may be overlooked for a promotion. These points have all been raised with me.”
“So let me say this – the path to create a more inclusive and diverse workplace will be challenging as significant change often is. It will require us to make inclusion and diversity a greater priority. It will demand that we question our own biases when we make decisions, that we make our workplaces more flexible and that we challenge dated stereotypes about jobs in the resources industry.”
BHP Billiton argues that the commercial case for action is compelling: more inclusive and diverse workplaces perform better and have a better safety record, and according to Mackenzie, in the company’s more ‘diverse sites’, performance levels are 15% higher.
Mining has one of the lowest percentages of women in its workforce when compared to other sectors and, without implementing the new initiative, it would take 30 years to get just 30% female representation.
The move comes after the need for corporate diversity has gained momentum. Closing the gender gap in the UK workforce alone, McKinsey & Co estimates, has the potential to add £150 billion to gross domestic product in 2025, and could result in 840,000 more women in the labour workforce.