BHP Billiton has announced its plan to make half its workforce women by 2025, in the lead up to the company’s annual general meeting in London today.
BHP chief executive Andrew Mackenzie said gender diversity will improve the company’s performance, the AFR reports, where only 17 per cent of its current global workforce are women.
He added that it would be a challenge, and a ‘huge leap’ for the company.
“It makes us more accountable; it underpins the depth of our commitment and it lets the world know we are serious,” he said.
The goal involves the whole workforce, with senior managers on the board given a target of increasing female representation by three per cent each year.
Mackenzie also acknowledged the potential for internal resistance to this decision.
“I’ve head the concerns: some employees think inclusion and diversity is not an area where we can make significant progress; some think women don’t want to work in the mining industry, and some male employees have concerns they may be discriminated against, or that they may be overlooked for a promotion,” he said.
“So let me say this – the path to create a more inclusive and diverse workplace will be challenging as significant change often is. It will require us to make inclusion and diversity a greater priority. It will demand that we question our own biases when we make decisions, that we make our workplaces more flexible and that we challenge dated stereotypes about jobs in the resources industry.”
Mackenzie went on to say that they would not disadvantage anyone, rather they will work to remove unconscious bias of women being disadvantaged in male dominated environments.
“Once we address that, we base decisions of merit, which is how it should be,” he said.
According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), women made up only 16 per cent of workers in the mining industry between 2014-15.