Progress for Women in Metals and Mining: Modest Gains in Leadership Roles

May 24, 2023 : Women are making strides in the traditionally male-dominated metals and mining sector, although significant progress is still needed, according to a data analysis conducted by S&P Global Commodity Insights. The study revealed that women occupy approximately 12.1% of C-suite positions across over 2,000 publicly traded global mining companies, marking a 1.6 percentage point increase since October 2021. Moreover, women account for 14% of all executive roles, indicating a 1.7 percentage point rise from the previous year, and have also increased their representation on boards by 4.3 percentage points to 12.3%.

The analysis found that the Middle East and Africa lead the way in gender diversity, with women holding 30.9% of the region’s executive positions in mining companies. This figure is more than double the representation in any other region and surpasses the global average. On the other hand, Latin American and Caribbean companies exhibit the lowest share of executive roles held by women at 11.2%.

While women have faced significant challenges in breaking into the mining industry, there are signs of progress and a growing recognition of the importance of diverse leadership. Barbara Dischinger, director of the UK-based nonprofit International Women in Mining, emphasized that diverse talent is crucial for addressing long-term industry issues such as energy transition, climate change adaptation, and tailings dam management. She argued that efforts to foster inclusivity and innovation require embracing different perspectives and people.

The S&P Global Commodity Insights study analyzed data from publicly traded metals and mining companies, considering honorifics and pronouns to assess gender representation. It also revealed that women comprised only 16% of the total US mining workforce in 2022, a significantly lower proportion than their 46.8% share in the overall US labor pool.

Women working in the mining industry face numerous obstacles, including societal perceptions, difficult interactions, and a longstanding male-dominated culture. However, experts and industry professionals stress the benefits of a more diverse workforce, pointing to improved safety outcomes, higher profitability, and enhanced problem-solving approaches. Research consistently underscores the advantages of inclusivity, prompting more companies to prioritize diversity in their recruitment and promotion efforts.

Although progress has been made, the metals and mining sector still has a long way to go to achieve gender balance and foster an inclusive environment. Setting targets, measuring progress, and implementing deliberate strategies for recruitment, retention, and advancement of women are key steps companies take to accelerate change. As the industry evolves, increasing gender diversity will be essential to drive innovation, profitability, and long-term sustainability.