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Labor Challenges to Continue in Mining. Women Can Help

By Ana Laura Muñoz - RAMA Mantenimiento Industrial Total


By Ana Laura Muñoz | Director General - Thu, 01/26/2023 - 16:00

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The mining sector faces great challenges in 2023.  According to the consulting firm EY, in its report Top 10 Business Risks and Opportunities for Mining and Metals in 2023, environmental, social and governance (ESG) aspects remain priorities, but with greater scope and complexity. EY also mentions that geopolitics has become more relevant due to the growing nationalism over resources and that the shortage of talent with critical skills will be a challenge amid  retirements and resignations. Several years ago, in Mexico, women ventured into the mining sector precisely because of this last issue: the shortage of available labor. Mining had to open its doors to women in the operational area due to the lack of men in the places where the sites were placed because men had moved to the US to look for job opportunities.  Since then, the participation of women within operation sites has increased while facing challenges arising from the traditional culture that prevails in Mexican society in general. 

The specific challenges for Mexican mining are many for 2023. To meet these challenges and achieve continued growth in the sector, the participation of men and women will be necessary. Men and women must continue to improve the combination of knowledge, skills and ideas that allow finding innovations so that mining can maintain its operations with a true commitment to social, environmental and economic responsibility for all its stakeholders. There is a saying that "two heads are better than one" and I am convinced  that if both heads have different innate abilities and different points of view, the result of that thinking will be even better.  Therefore, at Mujeres WIM de México, we are committed to continue with our actions that help open spaces in the Mexican mining sector so that the voices and ideas of women involved in the sector are heard and considered.

Among the actions that Mujeres WIM DE México carries out to promote the participation of women in the mining sector is the signing of an agreement with the Mining Chamber of Mexico (CAMIMEX). One of the objectives of this agreement is to prepare statistical records disaggregated by sex, type and size of the workplace that allow a real picture of gender equity in the sector. Recently, CAMIMEX presented its Sustainability Report, announcing some of these metrics regarding the participation of women in the mining industry. According to the data presented, women's participation has increased, partially recovering the impact from the COVID-19 pandemic on the number of women working in the sector. Currently, more than 66,000 women work directly for mining companies in the country, outpacing the number of pre-pandemic women.  

Of these women, 44 percent are unionized. Among non-unionized women, 27 percent are in supervisory positions, 24 percent in technical positions, 6 percent in executive positions, 16 percent in managerial positions and 13 percent in directive positions. Hence, we can observe an increase in the number of women in management positions compared to 2020.

The number of informational actions carried out regarding  equal opportunities in companies increased from 127 in 2020 to 161 in 2021. Among these actions are  training of all staff on gender equity issues, inclusion of equity issues in the Code of Ethics and corporate values of companies and publication of vacancies without distinction of gender.

Awareness of the importance of gender equity is a reality that must continue to be supported to transform into affirmative actions that lead to reducing the number of years required to reach this equity. In 2022, the Camimex Inclusion and Diversity Commission was launched, headed by  the President of  our WIM Women Association of Mexico,  with the aim of transforming the culture of diversity and inclusion. Additionally, at Mujeres WIM de México, we are working to implement the "Sello WIM" for companies involved in the mining sector that demonstrate their commitment and the positive actions they have taken regarding diversity and inclusion. This distinction arises with the purpose of motivating the mining, services, and supplier companies in  the sector to promote more quickly positive actions in favor of women in the sector, so that these actions go beyond policy  to be reflected in the workplace. The objective is to reduce the gap that persists regarding jobs in mining operations, engineering, exploration, information technology, supply chain and safety, health, and environment.  

More women are now involved in the mining sector, and nnot only on the administrative, legal and campsite services levels. We now can see women in  mine and plant operations who contribute with their work and ideas to create a more productive sector. Unfortunately, these women still face challenges, such as availability of places for internships, culture shock and insecurity during the transfer between a site and their home.  At Mujeres WIM de Mexico, we will continue our commitment to promote the cultural change that is required through equity training for all hierarchies of an organization, promoting an inclusive culture and egalitarian work teams.  

Photo by:   Ana Laura Muñoz

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