Dec '13/Jan '14

In search of a new approach to diversity

By Patty Moore

Early on in our planning for the 2014 CIM Convention in Vancouver, the organizing committee agreed that we needed to move away from just a Women in Mining (WiM) forum and have an entire track in the technical program devoted to diversity – in all its forms. I cannot tell you how many people, particularly from the WiM group, have said to me what a great idea that was. After all, having a diverse workforce – and a work space that supports this workforce – is just good business. Every industry is screaming for more skilled workers as the baby boomers retire. Engaging a broader workforce in a welcoming environment will help fill that void and lead to a stronger bottom line. We should not have to single out any one group, like women, within that workforce. In fact, there are many women who do not want to be singled out in this way. They have worked hard to garner and be recognized for the skills they have – not because they are women with those skills.

Having more women in the mining workforce is an important goal. And efforts like the Gender Inclusivity initiative, led by former Xstrata Nickel CEO Ian Pearce, are essential for achieving that. But for the mining industry, it is only one part of the larger challenge to attract people from a broader range of backgrounds and experiences. After Ian presented his initiative to the CIM Council, we agreed to form a Diversity Advisory Committee to see how CIM could support this work. Considering the work we had already begun to do for the technical program, it seemed a good fit, so I took the lead.

The committee has a renewable, one-year mandate that is broad by nature of the topic. We will look at case studies from within and outside our industry to make informed recommendations to the CIM Council on what we can do to further support diversity in our industry. The committee will also be tasked with reviewing and commenting on diversity-related proposals made to CIM from such bodies as the Aboriginal HR Council.

One of my early discussions about this committee was with our esteemed past-president Jim Popowich, who pointed out that diversity has always been a guiding principle of CIM. I believe him because I do not know anyone who knows the CIM guidelines as well as he. But still, how has this guided CIM? Certainly we have a diverse membership. But what association does not, particularly in this globalized age? What, specifically, has CIM done to promote and support diversity, short of the aforementioned Women in Mining forum and its efforts to work closely with WiM groups across the country? I do not mean to raise the ire of the illustrious CIM leaders we have had over the years, nor of our dedicated staff at CIM National. They are very responsive to industry trends and requests and have put their support behind this committee. But we can certainly do more.

The Diversity Advisory Committee is in its infancy. While we have had a few informal meetings to date, we only just became official at last September’s Council meeting. In the coming months, at events like CIM Convention 2014, aptly titled “Mining 4 Everyone,” we will look at where we believe we as an industry are, where we want to be in the future, and who we want to be there with. Ultimately, we will be looking at how we can use the power of CIM to help realize the promise of a more diverse industry. Let us be honest: While some companies have done admirable work in this area, it is clear that we still have a long way to go. We welcome your input on this topic and encourage you to share your success – and horror – stories with us.

Patty Moore is the general chair of CIM 2014 in Vancouver and the chair of CIM’s Diversity Advisory Committee. She is also director of business development with Tetra Tech.

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