"What about women in mining?"

Published: 13/06/2015

JUNE 12, 2015 – KPMG Newsroom

Sabina Shugg, National Lead, Mining Performance
Sabina Shugg, National Lead, Mining Performance

We want inclusive workplaces where all are welcome and feel included. Regardless of colour, religion, sexual preferences or gender. Or, for that matter, even if you have a strange sense of humour, you still want to be accepted. And if everyone is welcome then surely it’s going to be a better place to be for everyone? Then if you consider diversity, which is all about better thinking and better outcomes, you’ll therefore have a smarter, more enjoyable and more productive place to work.

I’m passionate about making sure that everyone gets a crack at some of the opportunities that are out there with a particular emphasis on the women of the mining industry.

Some mining companies have gone part of the way but we still have a long way to go. In Australia, women represent 46 percent of the workforce, but in mining, only 15.1 percent of employees and 13 percent of managers are women.

Companies and attitudes need to change.

Back in 2003 I founded a networking group for women in mining here in Perth. Women in Mining Western Australia aims to encourage women to increase their presence in the industry, provide a strong network for women, and for the industry to be proactive in attracting and retaining women in the resources sector.

My favourite saying comes from anthropologist Margaret Mead “A small group of people can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has”

At times in my life I have felt like a lone voice. Some changes only need a single voice, but to disrupt the balance of women to men will need many voices having courageous and often difficult conversation

Courageous conversations require a desire to improve and change. As Susan Scott, author of Fierce Conversations once said, “While no one conversation is guaranteed to change the trajectory of your career or life, any single conversation can”.

We need to have these courageous conversations at the time – so it doesn’t happen the next time. When something happens that isn’t right, when someone isn’t made to feel welcome in the workplace, we all need to respond. We also need to stick up for others that have these courageous conversations and back them up – help each other out – and make the workplace more inclusive by stopping this behaviour

Together we need to support and advocate for women in mining

Promoting role models and celebrating success – getting people within the industry and outside the industry to see that there are opportunities for both men and women in the industry – and that women are now doing every sort of job in the industry. And if more women stay longer in the industry this increases the likelihood of more women in senior roles

The mining industry has always relied on innovation and creative thinking and realistically we need gender balance to get that dynamic. We hear a lot about productivity being a key issue and thus innovation, creative thinking and the right dynamic is essential. We all need to work together to achieve this. Everyone has their part to play.

Sabina Shugg AM was recognised in the 2015 Queen’s Birthday honours list as a Member of the Order of Australia for her service to the mining industry. Sabina started out her career in WA’s goldfields and has championed the involvement of women in the industry, founding Women in Mining Resources (WIMWA) in 2003.