The Gold Industry Group’s (GIG) annual Women in Gold Great Debate this year tackled the topic ‘a diversity debate that begins and ends with gender is doomed to fail.’
Australian Mining watched in Melbourne as four speakers faced off with vastly different examples of how this topic was a part of their careers and personal lives.
Gold Road Resources general manager for capability and culture Stuart Jenner teamed up with Kirkland Lake Gold environment and community manager Felicia Binks to take the proposition, while Newcrest Mining principal for diversity and inclusion Giulia Savio and Agora Financial Australia chief editor Shae Russell were in opposition.
Jenner started the discussion off, posing “diversity is more than one or two dimensional,” speaking about the overcomplication of gender quotas potentially preventing opportunities for other minority groups.
“We started with gender, I agree we needed to start somewhere and continue efforts in that space, but we are missing most of the pie, we need more effort and focus in other areas,” Jenner said. “We need to put more than just gender on the agenda.”
Savio countered this by saying the industry must get gender equality right first and by doing so, this would positively affect the other minority groups.
“Of the other minority groups, what do you think one of those every two are?” Savio asked the crowd.
“If just over 50 per cent of the population are women; why not start there, and how wonderful if we tick some other boxes to improve the situation of other minorities on the way?”
Binks then urged the crowd to consider the overuse of the term gender diversity, how it has led to people not being as eager to engage in diversity programs and how the industry must disrupt the backlash before it takes over the conversation.
“We have made some progress, but this progress is really, really slow,” Binks explained. “When you focus on only gender diversity and there’s slow progress, people get fatigued.
“Let’s include more than just males and females and invite people from all levels of organisations to make it a place people of all genders, races and ages want to come to work.”
Russell concluded her side’s argument, saying if it was still necessary to have a conversation about whether gender diversity had come far enough, the answer was no.
She reinforced that the momentum of the fight for gender equality needed to be expanded onto larger topics.
“We need to take gender and expand it to dismantle power structures that reinforce group thinking and break down entrenched power, to make more inclusive and diverse environments,” Russell said.
As close as it was, the crowd of about 100 people cheered Savio and Russell to victory, deciding no, a diversity debate beginning and ending with gender was not doomed to fail.