HomeCoalFraser Alexander: Striving to empower women on all fronts

Fraser Alexander: Striving to empower women on all fronts

Founded over a century ago, outsourced mining and industrial services provider Fraser Alexander has a keen understanding of what is required to build a successful and sustainable business.

As a diverse organisation, Fraser Alexander understands the importance
of gender inclusivity in the organisation. To this end, the company strives to increase female representation at all levels in its business.

This article first appeared in Mining Review Africa Issue 7, 2020
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According to Fraser Alexander Executive Head of Human Resources Claire McMaster (a founding member of Women in Mining South Africa, or WiMSA), black women hold 60% of the seats on the Fraser Alexander Board.

The newest member of the team being Nompumelelo Makhoba who joins the business in the role of CFO.

Makhoba feels encouraged to work for an organisation that has embraced change when it comes to female representation, not just in administrative roles but operational roles too.

Makhoba quotes Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook and the first woman to serve on its board:

“We cannot change what we are not aware of, and once we are aware, we cannot help but change,” noting the company’s focus on further developing strategies that ensure women play an increasing role in the business.

The inclusion of women in business is imperative, especially in a male-dominated industry such as mining. This, McMaster believes, has an impact on an organisation’s sustainability and success.

“Initiatives that support the development of women need to be holistic and include leadership buy in, supportive policies, procedures and infrastructure, strategic recruitment, strong talent management, mentoring, network support, ongoing training, sponsorship and growth opportunities,” she says.

In 2019, Fraser Alexander supported enterprise development opportunities for a number of women-owned companies including a 100% black woman-owned welding, fabrication and heavy engineering company as well as a 34% woman-owned, 100% black-owned company specialising in steel fabrication and installation of steel structures.

The company also has a socioeconomic development project based in South Africa’s North West Province, aimed at high school learners having access to both a maths tutor and online learning programme by means of tablets – during COVID-19 the learners have been able to take these tablets home to continue by means of distance learning.

In addition, they provide Palesa pads (reusable and environmentally friendly sanitary pads) to ensure girls remain in school and facilitate attendance of the learners at their annual Fraser Alexander WiMSA career day, to generate the learner’s interest in careers in mining.

Fraser Alexander’s independent nonexecutive director Nakedi Ramaphakela believes that the participation of women in mining needs to be more targeted and intentional.

Interventions such as encouraging young females to take up STEM subjects in school and to having more education and mentorship programmes available to females educate them about opportunities in the mining sector are key.

Ramaphakela also calls on mining companies to ensure safer working conditions for women.

“Having more women sitting in management, executive and board positions helps drive some of these initiatives; however, it should not just be a matter that only women take up. We all have a collective responsibility to build a society that is fair and equitable,” she says.

This sentiment is echoed by Fraser Alexander’s REMCO and Social and Ethics Chairperson Rosalie Manning, who strongly believes that we need to create space for inclusion and diversity and to resist the need to fit into a patriarchal model.

While Fraser Alexander drives a strong gender diversity programme, the company believes that diversity is so much more than gender. Earlier this year, Fraser Alexander appointed a LGBTQI+ representative to its transformation forum with the aim of improving awareness of the challenges encountered by members of this community.

The company stands firmly against the latest wave of gender-based violence and any other form of human rights violation.

Fraser Alexander has urged its employees to report abuse, take advantage of their employee assistance programme and to stand up against gender-based violence.

Here’s to another hundred years of excellence and empowerment.