People development consulting company The Networking Company has launched a women in mining training programme to promote the growth of women in this male-dominated industry.
CEO and founder Helen Nicholson tells Mining Weekly that research has shown that women and men network differently in their professional lives and that, for women, it is often a blind spot in their careers, holding them back from being promoted, especially at a senior level.
While The Networking Company’s training programmes are traditionally aimed at financial services companies, the consultancy is aware that women in the mining industry require a lot of the same skills being taught to women in the financial services sector.
Therefore, the women in mining programme is being undertaken with a view to ensuring more women are promoted within the mining industry, as the industry remains male dominated.
The first course will begin in March and will run for eight weeks.
Nicholson explained that the curriculum of the course was based on research by management consulting company McKinsey & Company regarding what makes talented women thrive. This research found that women are often technical experts in their field, and rise to a certain level on that basis, but are then hindered from progressing further owing to eight factors.
These are self-belief, confidence, a lack of presence, negotiation skills, inability to have courageous conversations, navigating corporate politics, not managing one’s career deliberately, and personal brand and network.
The research showed that when these eight things are done correctly, women are often promoted quite dramatically within their organisation.
The Networking Company has based the women in mining training curriculum on this research, and has overlaid it with what it is observing generally from a trend perspective around an international women’s programme, Nicholson indicated.
The programme therefore entails practical training on how to navigate these eight factors successfully, providing women with tools to take their careers to the next level.
It also brings in males that are championing women in mining, as guest speakers.
The programme is targeting the entire industry, as this will engender a diverse network of women from across the mining industry.
Nicholson points out that because there are so few women in the industry, most do not network outside of their own organisation, and the programme will therefore facilitate this. She indicated that this will outlast the programme’s running time, with women in the industry able to network, support and collaborate with each other following its conclusion.
She notes that industry feedback has been positive thus far, with much interest in the programme before a marketing campaign was even undertaken. She says the overall response has been that this is a necessary initiative.
As most mining companies already have initiatives around gender parity, this programme can serve as a tool to help them achieve results and meet targets and accelerate gender diversity, states Nicholson.
One of the challenges in undertaking this programme has been the need to conduct the training virtually, owing to the physical distancing that is required amid the ongoing spread of Covid-19.
However, Nicholson notes that the company has been running virtual training successfully for its other programmes for the past year and has found that this can provide even better engagement than face-to-face training, with more robust and international participation now possible.
The company will aim for a hybrid method when it is safer to do so – combining the benefits of online learning with live sessions.
“When you grow women in an organisation, so many things change for the better, such as business performance and improved innovation, owing to diverse viewpoints.
"The business case for diversity is not just around transformation – while this is definitely a driving force especially in South Africa, internationally, there is compelling research that more diverse companies develop better results,” concludes Nicholson.
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