Creating Leadership Roles for Women in the Mining Industry
Posted: 03/11/2012 12:00:00 AM EST | 0
Mining IQ interviewed Tracey Hodgkins, CEO, Australian Experiential Learning Centre (AELC) about her experiences around the ‘Make me a CEO’ project.
“Make me A CEO” is the title of an exciting program developed by the AELC with a reference group made up of Telstra Business Women of the Year. It aims to provide support, guidance, mentoring and networking opportunities to high-potential women to achieve and sustain higher levels of leadership in their current environments. They are coming to the end of the first year of the program which has been hugely successful.
As part of your exposure to ‘Make me a CEO’ what challenges have you seen focused career women facing when trying to progress in the mining industry?
According to the 2010 Macquarie University for the Equal Opportunity for Women in the workplace Agency only 8% of women are in Executive Management across Australia and 4.1 per cent are in line management feeder roles. Looking at these stats we can see progress is very slow and in the mining industry that is actually lower.
It’s clear that there are a number of challenges for women in the mining industry. One of the biggest challenges we see for women is that although the number of women in technical fields such as engineering and geology are on the rise there is a major lack of women in senior management and executive roles in the mining industry.
We see two major gaps in career progressions which our programs aim to bridge for women. Firstly, around the superintendent roles and first stage management roles which women are reaching around their late 20s and trying to manage family commitments at the same time. And secondly, in senior management and GM roles with their next step being senior executive roles.
Other challenges include managing work and family commitments around FIFO and out of country work experience often needed to progress further.
Are there challenges unique to women specific to obtaining and retaining senior management roles within the mining industry?
Through our programs there are a number of skill areas that we focus on to help women obtain and retain senior management roles.
These include strategic thinking, negotiation skills, personal branding, work life balance and innovation and entrepreneurial execution.
The participants we work with from the mining industry are technically brilliant (this is why they are in GM roles!) but we want them to also be thinking from the perspective of a senior manager or CEO and this means moving away from thinking from a technical section and into the business as a whole. This challenge is not unique to women but for anyone that comes from a technical background.
So what do we do?
Well one thing we do know is that women need different support mechanisms to men.
The ‘Make me A CEO’ program was devised to support these high potential women into Upper Executive Management within a two year period. The mentoring program consists of peer group support, a series of two monthly mentoring workshops with high level executives in a variety of roles and companies and networking events that will extend the professional associations of the participants. With support from the WA Telstra Business Women of the Year and Category winners the program has one stat in mind; 15 women in 15 executive level positions by March 1st 2013.
What specific skillsets are required to overcome these challenges?
We are starting to see changes in the thinking of organisations and the women that are working in them. We are finding that women are picking employers that are supportive of their women and offer the training and development opportunities they require to reach that next level.
Women need to be aware of the leadership and development opportunities that are out there for them. They also need to be ‘ballsy’ enough to negotiate working arrangements that suit both them and their employer. This again is not unique for women – we are seeing more and more men that want to be able to have some work-life balance.
With the revised ASX Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations on gender diversity organisations are going to be more accountable for what they are doing to increase diversity in their workplace.
What opportunities are there for women to work and progress in the mining industry and what contribution would you like to see women making to the industry?
With an aging mining workforce and a lack of skilled labor the inclusion of diverse groups into the mining industry is going to be a huge factor in the success of the industry going forward.
Women bring a different and unique set of qualities to management positions and as the workforce in the mining industry gets more diverse, there is more pressure on the management team to reflect this.
To see more women in senior executive roles is our goal at Make Me a CEO and we are achieving this one program at a time.
What advice and tips can you offer to any women looking to a career in mining and resources?
The mining industry has huge opportunity for women, especially here in WA.
Advice for women is to take on as many learning and development opportunities as possible, step up into management opportunities when they are available and don’t be afraid to negotiate.
We also recommend that women pick their organisations carefully – there are a number of organisations that are actively showing support for their women.
The Make Me a CEO and Make Me a Leader programs work with organisations and women to support them into leadership roles.
Mining IQ thanks Tracey for her input! To find out more about the program click here
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