Zoë becomes MAC’s first female chair

Published: 25/02/2014

Rio Tinto’s Zoë Yujnovich, who is president and chief executive officer of the Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC), has been elected chair of The Mining Association of Canada (MAC). She is the first woman to hold this role in the 78-year history of MAC, the national association that represents one of the largest mining industries in the world.

Zoë is committed to fostering diversity and inclusion in our industry in all its forms, and is herself a clear example of the rewarding careers available to women in the mining sector. Speaking on her appointment, Zoë said: “It is a privilege to be elected by my industry peers as chair of the Mining Association of Canada.

“Given mining’s importance to Canadians as a powerful driver of our economy and as a major employer, my focus as chair will be on ensuring the industry can continue delivering these benefits to Canadians by improving the sector’s competitiveness and maintaining its reputation for excellence in corporate responsibility.

“Part of how we do both is by maintaining and strengthening a focus on workplace diversity, which will also enable our sector to address our human resources challenges directly.”

Changing perceptions

At IOC, 50 per cent of the management team is female. The recent increase in gender diversity of IOC’s leadership is helping to change the image of the company, and the Canadian mining industry as a whole. The increased diversity of skills, perspectives, background and experience at IOC is helping generate greater challenge amongst the leadership team, contributing to more innovative thinking and improved decision making. This ultimately generates more value for the business. Additionally, more time is being invested in not only the “what”, but also “how” decisions will be executed, contributing to greater engagement and more sustainable business results.

Zoë has been an active member of MAC since 2010, as first vice chair. Pierre Gratton, MAC’s president and chief executive officer, said: “Our association has had increasing female representation on the MAC Board of Directors and Executive Committee for many years, but Zoë’s appointment to chair signifies the growing leadership role of women in mining.”

Driving change

Zoë, who lives with her husband and three children in Montreal, has been with Rio Tinto since 1996, and has worked for the Group on four continents.

With a Bachelor of Engineering from the University of Western Australia and an Executive MBA from the University of Utah, Zoë has worked for Rio Tinto operations in Australia, the US, UK and Brazil, across our iron ore, aluminium and corporate functions. She has held a variety of roles, from engineering to plant operations to business analysis, procurement and marketing. Most recently, before taking up her current role in Canada, Zoë was president of Rio Tinto Brasil, and before that, executive adviser to Rio Tinto’s chief executive in London.

Zoë is a member of Rio Tinto’s Iron Ore Executive Committee, and also a member of the Group’s Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Council. This network of leaders from around the business is helping to drive changes to systems and culture, so that Rio Tinto gains the full benefits of a more diverse workforce.

For Rio Tinto, “Diversity” is the mix of human attributes, including gender, culture, nationality, competencies and many others that make each of us unique. “Inclusion” is about making that blend of people and attributes work together effectively and harnessing the diversity of thought that it offers.

The D&I Council, supported by a growing network of D&I champions across the Group, is leading the efforts to create a work environment where diverse talent can make a contribution and develop a career. This is helping Rio Tinto leverage the business value of its workforce’s collective thinking and skills.

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