HxGN RadioPodcast

Addressing mining’s gender diversity gap

Committing to gender-balance ensures that businesses are attracting and retaining the most qualified people from the broadest possible talent pool.

In this episode of HxGN Radio, we sat down with Hexagon’s Patrícia Procópio, who is also the President of Women in Mining Brasil and Jamile Cruz, Founder and CEO of consulting firm, I&D 101, to discuss how gender diversity is being addressed in the mining industry.

BK: Welcome to HxGN radio. My name is Brian and in today’s podcast, we are discussing gender diversity. An ever-growing body of research shows that gender-balanced teams create better outcomes and improved financial performance, as well as broadening the talent pool of qualified people.

Today, we’re joined by two people committed to addressing the gender diversity gap in mining and other industries, Hexagon’s Patrícia Procópio, who is also the president of Women in Mining Brasil and Jamile Cruz, Founder and CEO of consulting firm, I&D 101. Thank you both for joining me. Appreciate it.

JC: Thank you. It’s exciting to be here.

BK: Yeah.

PP: Yes. I’m very happy to be here.

BK: Well, this is exciting too, because it’s a new experience, doing a podcast and stuff like that. So, hopefully, you’ll walk away going, “That was a fun experience,” and you’re going to make an impact. So, I really appreciate your time.

All right. Well, first of all, tell us about yourself, what you do, and what you’re nerding out on. What are your passions right now? So, who would like to go first? You want to go first, Patrícia?

PP: Oh, I will start! I am Patrícia. Procópio. I’m a geologist, and I’ve been working in the mine sector for more than 30 years. And since I started to work, I’m always thinking about how to do better for the mining sector; how to transform the mining sector. That’s what I [focus on]nowadays, working in Women in Mining. I’m also a director in Hexagon’s mining division. I’m a planning innovation ESG director, and I live in Brasil. And I’m so happy to be here [at HxGN LIVE Global]for the first time.

JC: Fair enough. My name is Jamile Cruz. I’m the leader of I&D 101, which is a consulting firm, as you referred to in the beginning. Also, I’m a founding director of Women in Mining – Brasil, working together with Patrícia to really change or transform the perspectives of mining in the country. I’m very excited to see a transformation, not only in the mining industry, but I think our resources-related industry, because it’s such a big part. At least of both countries that I call home, Canada and Brasil. Natural resources are big, and it moves so much of the economy. So, watching a big part of the population, being women, or being people of colour, and other groups out of such an important industry for us, it’s one of the things that I’m passionate about and decided to do something to change.

BK: I love it. That’s great. Okay.

JC: I forgot the nerding out. I had something and I-

BK: Oh, go ahead.

JC: … Okay. So, on your question on nerding out, I am a big podcast fan, actually. I spend most of my time listening to podcasts when I’m not connected on Zoom or doing things. So, when I walk, when I do the dishes, and clean my home. So, it’s a big part of my life. And the other thing that I’m very excited about always being part of my life is volleyball and-

BK: Oh, goodness.

JC: … In Toronto, I play beach volleyball as much as I can during summer.

BK: My wife and I just got into watching volleyball. It’s been a few years now, but I didn’t know how exciting it was. That’s so much fun.

JC: There you go.

BK: Yeah, that’s great. Well, cool. I’m glad to hear… First of all, I’m glad to hear about the passion you have for this topic too, which is really neat, because clearly, it’s needed. So, let’s get into it then. So, tell us a little bit more about what the Women in Mining organisation does in Brazil and also worldwide. And then how do firms like your firm, I&D 101, help?

PP: I’ll start talking about the movement for Women in Mining. Women in Mining is an international movement that is present in all the countries that have mining as a very important economic power. And we have it in a lot of countries, we also have it in Brasil. We started the movement in 2019. We consolidated this when we had a group of women at PDAC in Toronto start a discussion about gender inclusion and it naturally started to work.

And we look for a new perspective for the mining sector. The idea is to strengthen it and advance the participation of women in the mining sector. There is a lot of change to do, we know that it’s a very traditional sector. Like Jamile said, it’s important to say it’s a need of all the industries, it’s not only a problem of the mining sector, but we face this in the mining sector. As a geologist that has worked more than 30 years, I know what this [issue is].

BK: Exactly.

PP: Yeah.

JC: And firms like I&D 101. Well, just to explain a little bit, I used to work as an engineer in mining as well. So, I’m an electrical engineer who worked for an engineering consulting for mining companies and then management consulting. Before I shift everything to have a discussion around diversity and inclusion. My firm, my I&D 101, we created from the need to have a more strategic conversation. Companies still move towards a request for people to volunteer their time to do this work when changes don’t happen.

People who are related or who understand the amount of work that it takes to move a change programme through an organisation being digitalised or anything technological that we talk about, you always have a very large change effort to move people from A to B. For diversity and inclusion, it’s no different. We’ve been doing things. Systems are designed to do things in one way for a very long time. I love the book Atomic Habits, where it says like “There’s no broken system.”

The systems are designed to deliver the results that we get. So, if we accept that, then we need to redesign the systems. So, if the systems are designed to leave people out, like we know it’s doing today, then we need to really rethink and redesign the systems to bring people in. So, that’s what I&D 101 helps organisations to do.

BK: Oh, that’s great. I love it. Good. Well, I guess I’ll ask a little side question on this. How is it going so far?

JC: That’s a great question. Let’s go for the positive first.

BK: Good. Yeah.

JC: So, well we’re about to complete four years of organisation.

BK: Okay.

JC: So, we started in 2018. I was working as an inclusion and diversity lead two years before that. I do think there’s an evolution. If you see enough of my presentation zero, I was going to see a maturity curve. So, there’s no jumping. We all have our process of evolution in any topic. So, we start learning and we take steps towards it.

So, companies today, I feel like they’re leaving that inactive mode where nothing’s getting done, mining specifically. The curve starts on inactive and moves towards reactive, proactive, all the way to dynamic. For mining, I used to say that we needed almost like a box before inactive. That was like the illusion box where people are just like, “We don’t have a problem.”

So, we’re moving out of that. I think with the force that’s coming from investor groups and just the whole conversation around ESG, we’re moving past that. We understand there’s a problem and we have reports. Like the report that was published this year from a large company, like Rio Tinto. Where it’s showcasing 85 pages how the issues that different groups of people have when they’re operating the mine site. Then there’s no longer a way to close your eyes and say, it doesn’t happen. In my new organisation people are accepting it. So, now this next step, it’s like, “Okay, since you accept it, let’s figure out the solution to solve this problem.”

BK: Good. Yeah. What is it? Seven times people have to hear it before they actually go, “Oh, hey, I just heard that.” I know you’ve heard it seven times now.

JC: Look, I’m doing my part to say it and repeat it over and over again.

BK: Yeah. And then for them to actually take action, I don’t know how many more times that is. But now change is ridiculously slow, and painful, and frustrating. Like very frustrating I think too. Just to get, “Yeah. I’m proud of you for sticking through with that and seeing it through the long haul.” Because that’s what it’s going to take.

PP: Yes. And it’s important too, in this moment, [and]it’s happening in Hexagon’s mining division. The idea to start to discuss about this because we need to realise that that’s the reality. We have few women in the mining sector. And not only women, but we have to have diversity. We need a plural industry because [it helps to develop]change. You need to have [diverse groups]for what we were working [to accomplish]. And like Ola said, we can transform the world. We have to take part in this change. And we really think that inclusion and diversity and movements like Women in Mining can be the bridge of this transformation.

BK: Absolutely. Yeah. So, I am curious to know what else needs to be done in order to make this more of a reality? And going along, I mean, besides what you’re already doing of course, but I’m also thinking too, as women are thinking about their careers, how is mining presenting itself as well to women?

PP: Yes. I think it’s important. Say for example, in Brasil, like I said, I’m the president and Jamile is a director. But before Women in Mining – Brasil, she was a director for Women in Mining – Canada. And so, she has a lot of experience [in this area]. We started the movement in Brazil with a call to action and an action plan that has eight strategies. I think that Jamile can explain better… we have to have guidelines, and we proposed these eight strategies.

JC: Yeah. Now, picking up from there. We did have the benefit of having the action plan from Women in Mining – Canada. So, Women in Mining – Canada had the support of the Canadian government to put together an action plan towards the industry that was published in 2016.

So, in 2019, when we started or ’18, when we started discussing how to bring the movement to Brazil, IBRAM, which was then Brazil Institute of Mining, had a conversation and we decided to not only bring to Brazil, but the council of Canada used to say, “Tropicalise the plan,” because we needed to really showcase the Brazilian reality, so people would connect. One big thing about action plans and guidelines, is that the biggest and most important part is engagement. So, you don’t want to put together a set of strategies that becomes a shelved exercise. Well, nowadays a Google folder or whatever it is. So, the work that was done was really to bring people together.

So, we’d run a few workshops at a mining hub in Brazil, where we brought women and different essentially, people from all over the mining industry to say, “How do these strategies work for you? Are they the reality of what we’re trying to change?” So, we had five strategies and we had three more to really take care of the ESG conversation.

So, development, community, and the sustainability, and contracting of companies. So, supplier diversity is how we call it. And those eight strategies look pretty much into every single layer that needs to be changed for a bigger or a better inclusion of women in the industry. And just a side note, like we are very binary when we talk about men and women in this industry, as Patrícia said, it’s a very traditional industry issue. So, we’re not as far or able to push the bar as much as we like to be. But I just want to recognise that we do have to have discussion about non-binary and different sexual orientations because the industry is [also]very closed to that as well.

BK: Sure.

JC: But as women, these strategies that were presented, the idea was really for people to understand that there’s a shift in the culture. So, when we talked, and we talk a lot about respect at work in mining. The question there was really like respect at work for whom, right?

BK: Yeah.

JC: Because there was a very clear line of who is respected here and who is not. So, we were looking at the policies and really shifting. And then attraction, you mentioned like, are people coming to mind? There is an issue with reputation, but there’s also a huge issue with education.

BK: Yeah.

JC: People just don’t know what mining’s for, right?

BK: Yeah.

JC: I feel like mining dropped into the world became like Al Gore’s movie where it’s like every single scene of the end of the world was essentially a mining shot, right?

BK: Yeah.

JC: Yes, there is a challenge with the mining operations that we have today. We’re still going through accidents and issues, but there is a way forward that we all need to participate to change. People ask me a lot like, “Why do you participate?” I don’t feel like there’s an option if we don’t participate, it’s just going to continue to be what it is.

BK: Sure.

JC: And it’s not great for anybody. So, the actions that we see on this action plan, that’s the goal for people to understand that there’s action to be taken at every single level of the organisation. And that’s what we proposed. And maybe Patrícia can share a little bit of the cultural action we did for organisations because that’s what the engagement part is.

PP: Yes, and I think that first of all, we have to realise that mining is essential for the world, it’s essential for humanity. And now you have to have engagement and to put this discussion on the table for everybody to discuss this. With the action plan, we did a call to action for the Brasilian companies and presented these strategies. [Today], we have 35 companies that have signed up their executives–How can I say? –

JC: Signed the commitment.

PP: Yeah, signed a commitment to do this. …we are also working on a report that was one of our proposals that we have to not only sign, not only to communicate, but also [they]have to prove that [they]are doing something in this direction. And in Women in Mining – Brasil’s launch last year has the first report that’s talking about KPIs and gender inclusion in the world. It’s a very interesting report. And we are working on the second [annual report]… talk more about it, Jamile.

JC: Yeah. Now, we’re actually just starting the analytics portion of the report. We do have a partnership with a management consulting firm that helps us work through this. So, from each one of these strategies and the eight strategies, and now the actions related to it, we sat with the mining companies who had signed this agreement to define the KPI.

So, these are a set of indicators that are meant to measure progress. So, we set quantitative and qualitative KPIs to say, “Okay, are we moving the bar? And when … an example. So, when we look into respect at work, how is the helpline being used? When people call in, what is the way the company’s solving or the company’s dealing with the complaints that are coming? And some companies are always, like, so happy to report, “There are no complaints.” It’s like “Really? With 10,000 workers in the locations where you operate, you really believe that it’s quite right that you have zero complaints?”

BK: There’s no such thing as none.

JC: Exactly. So, there’s so much work to be done into… First, create that respected work conscious thing where people can really put their hands up, right?

BK: Yeah.

JC: Like retaliation and understanding what the workers are worried about. If they do put their hands up and say, “What’s happening here is wrong.” The other thing that’s so basic in mining, but it’s sure reality and not only Brazil, like Canada and other countries in the world as well, it’s the lack of infrastructure to receive women at operations.

So, a geologist, for example, they’re trying to go there and do the work. And essentially, you have to drive far, or ask for the supervisor to stay at the door for you to be able to use the washroom, or you have no PPE equipment like protective equipment, that’s fit for your body for you to be able to execute the work that you need to do the best way.

BK: Sure.

JC: So, it’s so basic where we still are to be able to say that the industry is inclusive. So, the set of actions that we put forward, the indicators it’s exactly for that for us to be able to measure year over year, to make sure that we’re moving forward.

BK: This is good. I mean, you’re doing it though. It’s getting everybody to that point.

PP: I remember yesterday in the opening [keynote of HxGN LIVE Global]– Ola said that, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” That’s it. And our report is called ‘We measure what we-

JC: We value.’ Yeah, the first report that we launched last year, that was like the first year after this commitment from the companies, we decided to call it, “We measure what we value.” Because it’s exactly that right?

BK: Exactly.

JC: For a mining company, if the only thing leaders are measured against is the production rate … The type of behaviour that’s going to be shown at a company, it’s the same thing for technology company or consulting firm. If everything that you’re measuring is sales, you’re going to see the type of behaviour that’s driven by that. So, you need to have performance measurement for behaviours and culture.

BK: Agreed. And that’s an industry-wide or worldwide thing even too. That thing needs to be changed. Okay. So, I’m curious, what kind of advice you would give to women considering a career in mining? Or any STEM-related career for that matter. But also, let’s do this two ways, let’s give advice to women wanting to do that, but also what advice would you give to companies that need to implement this? So, two questions.

PP: Well, what can I say, first of all, we have to realise that mining is essential for the world. And it’s very easy to complain about something and stay sitting in the chair. My advice is, come with us. We have to change. Help us to change because you can do this. You use them in everything you do, and every day when we wake up, we use some [materials, tools, or] equipment [coming from a mine]. We have mining in everything. I call on these girls to come with us to change the world. We need [you], we need new women, we need new men, we need everybody to come with us to change this and to help this transformation….

JC: Yeah. I’m a big believer of you being the change. And it’s exactly what Patrícia said. It requires everybody to make something be different. So, people need to engage. And it’s a great career. As an electrical engineer, when I jumped in, I didn’t know what I was signing up for. I moved to Canada, and I got a job with an engineering consulting firm, and I researched, and I was like, “Oh yeah. They do mining projects.” I didn’t know really.

But that’s the beautiful thing for engineers. You might be electrical, but you’re going to have a view of how instrumentation works mechanical processes. It takes every single type of engineering to put a mining operation together. So, it’s lovely from a technical perspective. So, if you have any curiosity, reach out to us, reach out to any people associated with the industry, for you to ask your questions and see the opportunities.

It’s a sea of opportunities. And then moving to your question towards corporations. I do think we need to take greater responsibility as the industry to create the talent for the future and even attract the talent that’s out there who are may be not considering mining as an option for their careers. So, I think there’s work to be done towards education, to what Patrícia is saying, everything we’re using here right now to record this podcast, there are mining elements in it.

BK: Exactly. Yes.

JC: So, I think if people get further knowledge into how the industry really supports everything, right from infrastructure to the everyday lives, to our cell phones, and computers, we would probably be a little bit more willing to accept that’s always going to be part of our lives and then figure out how to work better together, really engage with a more sustainable and responsible mining.

So, for mining companies, they need to take responsibility to do this educational piece to relate to governments, to relate to high schools, and everything, open their doors to show people like this is what we’re trying to do, or this is what we do, and then invite them in.

BK: Yeah. Oh, I love it. I really appreciate this. Well, thank you both. And thank you for doing what you’re doing. You’re making a big difference. So, thank you for taking time to be on the show today, too.

JC: Thank you. It was lovely talking to you.

BK: Oh, likewise.

PP: Yes. Thanks for the opportunity to demonstrate what we are doing. I invite everybody to learn about Women in Mining – Brasil and-

JC: I&D 101?

BK: I&D 101.

JC: I’m kidding. For those listening to us-

PP: [Learn more on our websites], please.

JC: Yeah. Join us at our website. It’s www.wimbrasil.org. So, check our website, you can download for free the Action Plan, the report so you can learn about everything we talked about here from strategies, to actions, to indicators that you can start applying to your organisation tomorrow to really figure out where you are today and how to get to the next step.

PP: Yeah. And then I also want to thank Hexagon’s Mining division, for [joining]us in this work and inviting us to be here to about this.

BK: Absolutely. Well, Patrícia, Jamile, thank you so much. Really appreciate your time.

JC: Oh, this was lovely. Thank you.

BK: And of course, thank you for joining us on HxGN radio. For more information and to listen to additional HxGN radio episodes, head over to iTunes, Spotify, or SoundCloud. And you can visit HxGNspotlight.com for more information and stories from Hexagon. Thank you again for listening and have a wonderful day.