Rio Tinto: Driving diversity through technology and inclusion

Rio Tinto’s Kellie Parker has described how the company is creating a more inclusive culture, and how technology is presenting more opportunities for women in the mining industry, at the annual Women in Mining and Resources WA (WIMWA) summit in Perth.

Kellie, who is managing director of Pilbara Assets & Development within the Iron Ore group, said that women are still under-represented at senior levels of Australian business, and that there has not been significant change in the past decade.

But, she said, Rio Tinto has: “worked hard to provide an environment which supports women, and I do believe we’ve made significant progress for what is historically a male-dominated industry.”

Thirty seven per cent of Rio Tinto’s Perth workforce is female. “As the business moves towards more technology, we will see greater opportunity and more diverse career opportunities open up,” said Kellie. She described how technology helps to create more flexible working patterns, which in turn can create a more inclusive work environment, where difference is embraced.

Kellie also talked about her own career journey, which began after she graduated with a bachelor of science degree and a health and safety diploma. Following roles with a number of health and safety organisations in Australia and the UK, she joined Rio Tinto in 2001, and has worked in leadership roles across the Iron Ore group’s mine, port and rail operations.

“I have made choices throughout my life and career and I am continually grateful to my support mechanisms that allow me to do this, but I hear so many stories of women who are struggling with trying to have it all.

“While women continue to struggle with this dilemma, we will not move the dial on increasing women into more senior roles.”

Kellie explained how Rio Tinto’s Executive Committee – recognising its leadership role in improving inclusion and diversity across the Group – has committed to number of actions in their personal short-term incentive plans. The company has also set five-year measurable objectives for workforce diversity, including for women to represent 20 per cent of senior management by 2015.

“Rio Tinto has been a very supportive work environment, and I am grateful for all the opportunities presented to me,” she concluded. “I now want to ensure more women take up the opportunities within Rio Tinto and the mining industry.”

WIMWA was founded in 2003. It aims to encourage women to increase their presence in the industry, provide a strong network, and for the industry to be proactive in attracting and retaining women in the resources sector.

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