Despite research that women perform better as board directors, top mining firms have been dragging their heels about appointing female executives.
Women in Mining, a London-based lobby group promoting the appointment of female board directors in the industry, points out that among the top 500 mining companies, women hold just 3% of the directorships.
This is despite the fact that companies with a market value of more than $10 billion performed better with at least one female director than those with all-male boards. They also have a higher return on sales, higher return on equity, and higher return on invested capital, according to a 2012 report by Credit Suisse Group.
Very little growth of female representation
Women in Mining UK criticised the top 100 globally listed mining companies for only increasing female board representation by a mere 3.1% since 2012. “At this rate it will take until 2039 for the top 100 listed mining companies to reach the 30% critical mass of women on boards,” the group said in a report in conjunction with PriceWaterhouseCoopers.
Currently, women only occupy 8% of the board seats of the top 100 global mining companies, and just 4% of the top 500 companies. Only a mere 1% of the executive directors of the top 100 companies are women, with the rest holding non-executive roles, although this increases to 3% when looking at the top 500 companies.
Considering the reasons for gender inequality in mining
The mining has a rich heritage of being “a man’s job,” and women have even been banned from working underground in some countries until recently. Although some countries have suggested quotas and are encouraging companies to hire more women, especially at a senior executive level, little is being done in general to enforce these targets. Of those who are appointed, many may be treated as “female window dressing.”
Finding women to undertake senior roles in the mining industry “is a challenge,” the report reveals. This is partly due to the fact that women are less likely to advance their mathematics and science education. Furthermore, the mining industry, like many other technical industries, is largely dominated by men.
“While the exact cause of the correlation between market capitalisation, board size, and the level of women’s participation on boards is not known, this correlation raises the question of whether board seats have been created to accommodate female directors and highlights the fact that expanding board size to accommodate female directors dilutes the influence female directors have on such boards,” the report says.
Reasons to appoint female board members
The Conference Board of Canada found that boards with three or more women showed different governance behaviours to those with all male boards. The more gender balanced boards were more likely to ensure better communication, adhere to a code of conduct, identify criteria for measuring strategy and monitor its implementation. They were also more likely to focus on gender diversity, employee satisfaction and corporate social responsibility.
Equally, companies in all sectors with women as directors are 20% less likely to go into liquidation than ones without, according to a study conducted by the University of Leeds.
“The argument for more women in leadership roles in the mining industry is a business imperative, not just a debate about equality,” Amanda Van Dyke, chairwoman of the group, said in the report. “Companies with women on boards perform better. There is a correlation between women on boards and better dividend yield, earnings per share, enterprise value to reserve ratio and return on capital employed.”
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