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PGMs miner emphasises female representation

CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT The company was again listed on the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index in 2022

ADDRESSING CHALLENGES Implats has implemented separate ablution facilities at its operations and safety systems for women working underground or in remote areas of the mine or plant

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY Implats introduced the Future Women in Mining programme last year to educate schoolgirls about opportunities available in the mining industry.

12th August 2022

By: Sabrina Jardim

Creamer Media Online Writer

     

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Platinum-group metals (PGMs) miner Impala Platinum’s (Implats’) Gender Equity forums have made progress in advancing gender mainstreaming activities and the company is working towards achieving 15% female representation by 2025.

Implats has achieved its aim of having women account for 25% of management by 2023. The company currently has female representation at 46% at board level, says Implats group executive for people Lee-Ann Samuel.

The company was listed on Bloomberg’s 2022 Gender Equality Index, which Samuel says reflects the way in which the company continues to improve its gender diversity initiatives.

“Our commitment to promoting gender equality is reflected in our third successive inclusion in the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index. This recognises our commitment towards transparency in gender reporting and advancing women’s equality in the workplace. This achievement is testament to our commitment to create a more inclusive and diverse workplace, a key component in building a high-performance culture and a healthy, sustainable business.”

Implats will invest R10-million over the next four years for the 2021 intake of bursars, including 18 recipients who matriculated in 2020.

Of the 18 bursars, seven men and 11 women were selected from 11 high schools in Rustenburg, in the North West, to study disciplines such as mining; mechanical, chemical and electrical engineering; chemistry; geology; teaching; human resources; and accounting at local universities.

The funding covers tuition, accommodation, books, pocket money and paid vacation work.

Implats also introduced the Future Women in Mining programme last year to educate schoolgirls about opportunities available in the mining industry.

Through the bursary programme, the company provides sponsorship, support and mentorship opportunities for school learners.

Samuel explains that the bursary programme is still nascent and will be further developed to encourage more women to pursue opportunities in the mining industry. The company aims to encourage more women to achieve adequate matric results to embark on a career in the industry.

Implats also actively supports the initiatives driven by Minerals Council South Africa to advance women in the industry, including the Women in Mining Leadership Forum, established in 2021, comprising senior executives from 16 companies, which is supported by a Women in Mining task team. Implats is a member company and has taken a leadership role in several task team projects.

Challenges

Samuel says the challenges that women in the mining industry face include violence and discrimination, as well as challenging work conditions, whereby personal protective equipment and machinery are generally designed for men.

To address these challenges, Implats has implemented separate ablution facilities at its operations and safety systems for women working underground or in remote areas of the mine or plant.

Moreover, the company offers ongoing training and management mentoring for women, with gender mainstreaming initiatives across all operations to address the unconscious bias towards women that can, consequently, repel women from working in the industry.

To attract more female talent for its operations, Implats has designed an employee value proposition.

“Gender diversity is a business priority, ranging from setting targets to holding leaders accountable for results. Despite aspects of the Mining Charter being set aside by the Gauteng High Court last year, our diversity and employment equity strategy and action plans at our South African operations align with the Mining Charter III targets and with our plans and policies aimed at fostering our desired organisational culture, which strongly encourages gender diversity,” says Samuel.

Further, the increased mechanisation of the mining industry and new mining technologies are improving mining operations, empowering employees, creating a safer work environment and decreasing environmental risk.

Implats welcomes the technological advances that, for example, allow for remotely operating equipment that separates employees from the mine face. These developments make mining more attractive for women by removing the need for physical strength to perform certain duties.

Further, the company is addressing the underrepresentation of women to close the gender gaps in terms of promotions and salaries, besides others.

“Our policies and procedures are aimed at contributing to sound employee relations, attracting and retaining talent, and ensuring the continuous development of our employees while offering opportunities for career progression, with a particular emphasis on women,” says Samuel.

She adds that Implats has started to improve its approach to creating an environment conducive to gender equality in general, with such programmes having resulted in an increase in the intake of female university students, as well as in-house training opportunities that provide more opportunities for women in core and critical occupations.

“Our skills development programmes aim to create a pipeline of young, diverse talent with specific focus on increasing female representation and succession planning to ensure advancement within the various career paths,” concludes Samuel.

Edited by Nadine James
Features Deputy Editor

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