Pulling power in Rio Tinto female recruitment drive

More than 3000 women across Australia and New Zealand have applied for roles with Rio Tinto, following the launch of recruitment campaigns targeting women who had not previously worked in the mining industry.

In Western Australia, the Transferable Pathways campaign, which launched last month, attracted about 1600 responses. This was roughly the same number received for the Women in Leadership program at Rio Tinto’s eastern Australian and New Zealand Aluminium operations in April and May, bringing total applications for both programs to around 3200.

The campaigns attracted applicants from a diverse range of industries, including defence, aviation, government, HR and education.

Rio Tinto chief executive Australia, Kellie Parker, said the response to both of these campaigns had been overwhelming and it was encouraging to see women keen to enter the industry as the company worked to create a more inclusive and diverse environment.

“Our recent review into workplace culture, the Everyday Respect report, showed clearly that we need to foster a more diverse and inclusive workforce, which includes increasing the number of women in our business,” she said.

“One way we are trying to do this is to better recognise leadership and work skills gained in other industries and help transfer those to our workforce.

“Traditional recruitment practices for our industry mean we are hiring women from the same talent pool.

“By opening up our operational roles to women without industry experience, but with transferrable skills and talent, we not only increase representation of women in our business but also diversity across the industry as a whole.”

Transferable Pathways aims to fast-track women who haven’t worked in mining before into Operational Leadership and Planner and Scheduler roles with Rio Tinto.

After a successful trial program for women operators in 2020, the program will be enhanced in 2022 to include leadership roles. 34 women will be selected for a combination of leadership, planning and scheduling roles across Rio Tinto’s Pilbara operations including Gudai-Darri, Marandoo, Robe Valley, Brockman, Cape Lambert and other Pilbara locations.

Over the first 12 months, each participant will receive a tailored learning and development plan to support their move into mining. They will be asked to bring their unique skills to learning and development sessions which will be focused on the more technical aspects of mining. Each participant will also shadow a peer on site and be partnered with mentors to coach and support them as they gain industry experience.

Women in Leadership aims to improve gender diversity in frontline leadership roles in Rio Tinto’s aluminium operations across eastern Australia and in New Zealand.

A pilot program was launched in 2021, which led to 15 developing supervisors joining Rio Tinto’s three Gladstone sites. The program has since expanded to include developing superintendents, who can have up to 100 direct reports, with more than 1,600 people applying for eight positions offered across Pacific Operations.

The developing supervisor pilot program will soon also expand beyond Gladstone, with a total of eight more positions available at the other Aluminium sites of Gove (Northern Territory), Weipa (Queensland), Bell Bay (Tasmania) and Tiwai Point (New Zealand).

Successful applicants in both programs will take part in a 12-month course combining on-the-job and classroom training and will be supported through mentoring, networking, coaching and educational programs.

Applicants who aren’t selected for the Transferable Pathways or Women in Leadership programs will be considered for other suitable positions within the company.

Successful candidates will begin the programs later this year.


Editor of industrial titles and mastheads with Prime Creative Media. Publications include Rail Express and Australian Mining (web content).
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