Our thinking

Changing the face of mining

In partnership with

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Supported by Women in Mining UK


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A review of women on boards and C-suite positions in the mining industry 2012 – 2022


Rebecca Campbell
Partner, White & Case LLP

Amanda van Dyke
ARCH, Emerging Markets Partners

Carole Cable
Chair, Women in Mining UK

The mining industry is the bedrock of the global economy, providing the basic materials that are the building blocks of the world. Infrastructure, transport and machinery, energy, and the devices and equipment that we use every day to look after our families and our communities, all contain metals and minerals that are mined. More recently, there has rightly been a focus on the role of the mining industry in the energy transition; there can be no decarbonisation without an increased sustainable supply of the critical minerals needed for batteries, renewable power, and the infrastructure required to create and distribute low or zero emissions energy. While recycling will have an increased role to play, primary mining is the driver.

Yet, the industry is facing one of its biggest challenges ever – how to change the face of mining to attract more people into the sector and how to encourage them to stay. We are acutely aware of the poor perception the public has of mining, and a part of that perception is the lack of diversity from the top all the way to the mine site. If you don't recognise you, or know about the amazing jobs available to solve the climate crisis, why would you chose mining to be part of the climate solution?

We acknowledge that diversity goes beyond gender and there is significant intersectionality within, but we focused this report on women in mining because we wanted to track the progress of the mining industry 10 years after publishing our first research report in 2012. Women in Mining UK, led at that time by Amanda Van Dyke, commissioned the first report to determine just how many women were participating in the mining industry at senior levels, and to determine what, if any, effect those women had on the performance of those companies. The aim of research like this is to make a factually supported business case for women in mining.

And ten years later, Rebecca Campbell, Global Head of the Mining & Metals Industry Group at White & Case, and Amanda van Dyke, Managing Director of the ARCH Sustainable Resources Strategy, together with their incredible teams, have updated the research and the business case. This 2023 research found that there remains a positive correlation between a higher EBITDA margin, a higher return on capital invested, higher ESG scores with the percentage of women on boards. The top 500 listed mining companies have made good progress over the decade, albeit from a low base, increasing the number of women on boards by 13%, and for the top 100 listed miners, the rate of increase was 15% over the period.

However, there is much more progress that needs to be made. If we were to extrapolate that rate of change, it would take the top 100 listed mining companies until 2026 to reach the critical 30% level, and until 2030 for the top 500 listed mining companies.

There is an old expression, "what gets measured gets done". This research report and the one undertaken 10 years ago are written by women in mining for the whole sector, and we hope that it shines a light on the value of diversity and inspires other historically under-represented groups to take on similar efforts to make further progress on diversity and inclusion.

Together, and only together, can we build a truly equitable and sustainable future for mining, rebuild society's trust, and attract and retain the top talent the mining industry needs to play its role in the energy transition, responsibly and sustainably for all stakeholders.

Foreword by two trailblazers in the mining industry

Marna Cloete
President, Ivanhoe Mines

Mining lies at the center of unprecedented, systemic changes sweeping the globe. The pursuit of net-zero carbon emissions depends on the reliable supply of minerals, a dependence that has elevated mining's political profile in a completely new way. As the world faces growing concerns over climate change and energy availability, there is an undeniable urgency for continued exploration and development across the mining industry. With that interest comes age-old concerns. Can we mine enough to decarbonize, and can we do so in an environmentally sustainable and socially responsible manner? At Ivanhoe Mines, we think so. We are committed to becoming a global leader in the supply of essential metals for the world's growing population and its transition to clean energy.

For decades, mining has been perceived as an "old boys club," with gender inclusivity and equality only recently gaining traction. While women taking on senior leadership roles in the industry is still relatively uncommon, I am fortunate not to have experienced a "glass ceiling" in my career over the past two decades. However, I realize that this isn't always the case. More needs to be done to increase awareness and make the industry more appealing and supportive toward women; this includes promoting the value of local women-owned businesses when developing projects.

Diversity in leadership can drive innovation and facilitate better decision-making, and today, it's widely accepted that having more women at the top can contribute to greater financial performance and improved ESG ratings. Women in Mining UK and partner White & Case deserve recognition for their contributions. The mining industry has made strides over the past decade. Women occupied board positions in just under 8% of the top-100 listed mining companies a mere ten years ago, while today that figure stands at 22% and continues to climb.

As the president of Ivanhoe Mines, promoting diversity and inclusion has always been a top priority for me. I am proud to say that we have increased the percentage of female employees across our group from 9% to 10% alongside a 20% increase in our workforce. Our commitment to local communities and governments is unwavering, and we take great pride in knowing that our Kamoa-Kakula Copper Complex contributed approximately 4% to the GDP of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2022. Furthermore, we have spent close to US$311 million in government taxes and royalties while maintaining the highest possible ESG standards.

Our commitment to supporting local businesses goes beyond just providing them with the resources they need to succeed. We're also focused on fostering innovation, upskilling members of the community, and creating opportunities for women to manage and own businesses. Our efforts include enterprises such as the Kushona sewing center, the Mundjendje poultry farm and the Ndizi Salama banana plantation—all owned and operated by women who now have the chance to be financially independent and support their families. We firmly believe that the success of entrepreneurs and small businesses is critical to the growth of local economies, job creation and innovation, and to empowering women to achieve their full potential.

It's been very exciting to witness these successes at Ivanhoe Mines, and we will continue to lead the way in the industry by transforming how mining is done with an unwavering commitment to our people, communities and environmental stewardship.

My thanks to Amanda van Dyke and Rebecca Campbell for guiding this report to publication. It gives us all hope that things are changing for the better, while making clear there is so much more to do. When one succeeds, everyone succeeds. We all have a part to play in helping the mining industry progress, paving the way for a fair and sustainable future that we can all take great pride in.


Cynthia Carroll
Board member, Glencore
Former CEO, Anglo American

As CEO of Anglo American, I saw first-hand the critical importance of changing the culture of the mining industry through diversity, equity and inclusion, and the extensive impact that women can have on an organization. Changing corporate culture takes time. Shareholders do not always reward these efforts immediately. But inclusion of women is not optional. Without it, the industry will not be able to fully realize its potential. How can we effectively meet the challenges of climate change and sustainable development if we are not accessing the best talent in the world and the other 50% of the population?

I am fortunate and proud to have played a part in beginning the change during my tenure at Anglo American, and am pleased to see how the company has taken on the challenge of making its corporate team and business partners align with its values. As this report makes clear, increasing women's participation on corporate boards is not just the right thing to do. It's good for business.

Women bring unique perspectives, skills and experiences to the table, which can help drive innovation and improve decision-making. There is now ample evidence to confirm that companies with diverse leadership teams perform better financially, have better ESG ratings and deliver more value for shareholders as responsible corporate stewards. Significant progress has been made since I was the lone female CEO in the industry, but there is far more to be done.

Women face myriad challenges going into mining, whether it be bias, discrimination, lack of representation in leadership positions or lack of opportunity. With the right support and initiatives, these barriers can be overcome. Mining companies can change. My own experience with Anglo American attests to that. When I began as CEO, we had few women working deep underground or in open pit operations. When I left Anglo American, we had women working in operational and functional roles at all levels across the group and employed more women than any other mining company in the world. This uplifted the culture and, I believe, our results.

Cultural changes start at the top. If executives do not take gender inclusion seriously, it is impossible to build an inclusive culture from below. Training and mentorship programs, providing flexible work arrangements and promoting gender diversity at every level of mining companies are necessary, as are systematic efforts to eliminate gender pay gaps. Companies should mandate, not ask, that executives promote, recruit and include women.

Many thanks to Amanda, Carol and Rebecca. We need more efforts like this to show how starkly clear the benefits of inclusion are, both as a moral good and best practices for business. Hopefully, others can build on what they've done to do the same for other groups who have been excluded from positions of authority for too long.

Women have a vital role to play in the mining industry, and their participation is essential for its success. I am proud to have been part of a company that recognized this and worked toward gender balance. I hope that this report inspires others to keep pushing for true equality in the mining industry. There is so much more to be done, and the rewards are immense.

Executive summary: Changes since the last report in 2012

sand patterns

Women on boards: The numbers

mining workers
Courtesy of Ivanhoe Mines Ltd

Digging deeper into the numbers

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Developing a diverse pipeline is crucial to the future of the mining industry

mining truck

How women on boards affect the financial performance of mining companies

mining workers
Courtesy of Ivanhoe Mines Ltd

The effect of women on environmental, social and governance factors

woman mining worker
Courtesy of Ivanhoe Mines Ltd

Conclusion: The business case for women in mining

mining site

About Women in Mining (UK)

WIM UK promotes the employment, retention and progress of women in the mining industry.
Founded in 2006, Women in Mining UK (WIM UK) advocates and speaks for women in the mining sector, informing industry participants and decision-makers of the challenges and opportunities women are finding in pursuing careers in mining companies and other mining-related businesses.
Through our partnerships with leading mining companies and other industry participants, WIM UK provides thought leadership, analysis and research on the business case for diversity, inclusion and the economic advancement of women in the sector.
WIM UK offers a strong network which is used to progress professional goals and career aspirations. Membership is complimentary to both women and men. Through our work with universities and other organisations, WIM UK promotes the role of women in the mining industry and externally raises awareness of mining as a career choice for women.
WIM UK celebrates and shares female success stories with the "100 Global Inspirational Women in Mining" publications and through our social media channels.
For more information, please contact us via our website Home - Women In Mining

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Digging deeper into the numbers

In partnership with

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Women in Mining UK logo
5 min read

Women held just 17.6% of mining industry board roles—still the lowest of any industry in the world

Each of the indices in South Africa, the US, Canada, Australia and the UK have experienced significant increases in the percentage of female directors across the top-100 and 500 listed mining companies. South Africa continues to lead the pack with women holding 40.6% and 32.7% of directorship positions across the top-100 and 500 listed mining companies, respectively. This is largely due to legislation requiring a quota of "Historically Disadvantaged South Africans" to be represented at the board level (this includes women). It is encouraging to see that South Africa has achieved the 30% critical mass of female directors at the board level across both the top-100 and 500 listed mining companies.


Committee seats held by women in the top-100 listed companies by 2022, a significant increase from 8.2% in 2012

Since our first report in 2012, Canada stands out as the most improved, with women holding 31.7% and 22.9% of directorship positions across the top-100 and 500 listed mining companies—up from 5% and 3% in 2012, respectively. This can partly be traced to several large Canadian institutional investors adopting 30% targets for female directors as part of their voting policies, or otherwise being members of the Canadian 30% Club Investor Group2. Examples include British Columbia Investment Management Corporation, Caisse de Dépôt et placement du Québec, Canada Pension Plan, OMERS, Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan and RBC Global Asset Management. The top-100 listed mining companies in Canada and Australia have now reached the recommended 30% critical mass of female directors, with women in Canada's top-100 listed mining companies holding an average of 31.7% directorship positions and women in Australia's top-100 listed mining companies holding an average of 34.8% directorship positions.

By contrast, Hong Kong has regressed on metrics of gender inclusion, with the percentage of female directors of both the top-100 and 500 listed mining companies declining since 2012. Since 2012, the percentage of female directors across the top-100 and 500 listed mining companies in Hong Kong has fallen from 5.7% to 4.9% and from 9.4% to 5.7%, respectively. 

While non-executive director appointments of women are certainly a good starting point for the mining industry to bolster gender diversity on their boards, companies should refrain from leaning on such appointments as a lone means to an end

Comparing industries

On January 1, 2022, the mining sector accounted for approximately US$3 trillion, amounting to 2.3% of the total market capitalization across all industries worldwide3

The mining industry continues to lag behind in progress made by other key industries—a trend that has persisted since our first report was published in 2012. We have monitored data from Credit Suisse comparing the percentage of female directors across companies in various key industries, including energy, real estate, financial, healthcare, industrial, utilities and IT. The financial and healthcare industries lead the way, with women holding 26.5% and 26% of directorship positions, respectively. Disappointingly, the mining industry lags behind even the "bottom scorers"—the IT, energy and real estate industries. Women hold 20.1%, 22% and 22.5% of directorship positions in the IT, energy and real estate industries, respectively—as compared to 17.6% of directorship positions in the mining industry.

Comparing board size

In our previous reports, it was noted that companies with female directors on their boards were bigger and thereby tended to have greater shareholder accountability on corporate governance matters, including gender diversity. Such boards tended to be bigger as a result of increasing the number of female directors. Further, as reported in 2012, expanding board size to simply accommodate female directors as a means of appeasing shareholders dilutes the influence that female directors have on boards.

The findings of this report are consistent with these earlier findings, albeit that the average board size of the top-100 and 500 listed mining companies with more than one female director has fallen from 12 to ten and 11 to nine, respectively, since 2012. This suggests that the top-100 and 500 listed mining companies may no longer be "tacking on" female directors in a way that they may have previously done, such that more female directors are proportionately appointed to their boards, thereby bolstering their influence.


Committee seats held by women in the top-500 listed companies by 2022, a marked improvement from 5.3% in 2012

Comparing professional backgrounds

We have found that female directors in the mining sector are slightly more qualified degree-wise than their male counterparts, with an average of 1.9 graduate degrees as compared to 1.8 graduate degrees, respectively. Moreover, most female directors across the top-100 listed mining companies worldwide have a background in management. The same holds with respect to their male counterparts, with 29.8% having a management background—a background in mining only comes second, with 21.8% of male directors across the top-100 listed mining companies.

Committee participation

Female directors actively participate in the decision-making processes of mining company boards. Building on the trend in our second report in 2015, the percentage of committee seats held by women has consistently been higher than the percentage of female directors, highlighting their active participation. Across the top-100 and 500 listed mining companies, women held 26.1% and 22.5% of committee positions, respectively, while holding 22.6% and 17.6% of directorships, respectively. 

Across both the top-100 and 500 listed mining companies, the percentage of committee seats occupied by female directors has substantially increased since 2012, by 17.9% from 8.2% and by 17.2% from 5.3%, respectively. This is to be encouraged—to better harness the positive impact of gender diversity, mining companies must not only increase the number of women on their boards, but also in their core committees.

Is it all good news?

Although the number of women on boards has steadily increased, the appointments have predominantly been to non-executive director (NED) positions—a consistent trend since our very first report in 2012. 93.1% of all female directors across the top-100 listed mining companies worldwide are NEDs, compared to 77.4% of male directors. Across the top-500 listed mining companies, 91.1% of all female directors are NEDs, compared to 75.0% of male directors. 

While there has been a modest increase in executive director (ED) positions held by women across the top-100 and 500 listed mining companies since 2012, by 6.8% to 8.2% and by 5.0% to 7.5%, respectively, there is still a long way to go in striking a more equal ratio between NED and ED positions for female directors.

While NED appointments of women are certainly a good starting point for the mining industry to bolster gender diversity on their boards, companies should refrain from leaning on such appointments as a lone means to an end. Importantly, companies must also develop robust pipelines to retain and foster female talent to bolster women in ED positions, in order to maximize the benefits of female perspectives on their boards.

2 Source: https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/pressure-building-on-canadian-companies-1659451/
3 Source: Capital IQ

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This article is prepared for the general information of interested persons. It is not, and does not attempt to be, comprehensive in nature. Due to the general nature of its content, it should not be regarded as legal advice.

© 2023 White & Case LLP

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