Ar e c ent s u r v e y of 50 0 mining companies by UK organisation Women in Mining found that only 7.9% of total board members were women, reinforcing t he common perception that extractive industries are stuck in the dark ages.
Of the top 100 companies surveyed, with a value of $1.28tr (R14.6tr) out of total $1.46tr (R16.6tr) worth of firms covered in the study, women comprised 11.1% of total board members, which represents a measly 3.1% increase in three years.
This i s despite a claim i n t he study that failing to have suff icient women on your board represents bad business. Women i n Mining said that performance indicators, such as return on capital employed, is actually better when there is female board representation.
South African mining, however, compares f avourably against it s international peer group.
According to the websites of the JSE’s top 11 mining companies, there are some 30 women serving as directors, equal to 23% of all board positions (130). In some cases, women control executive roles as well, such as Christine Ramon, who is CFO for AngloGold Ashanti.
These 30 women include Glencore’s recently appointed female director Patrice Merrin, whose arrival at the Swiss minerals and trading group seven months ago ended the last of the FTSE 100 Index’s all-male boards.
It ’s not just Glencore, however, that could do more to appoint women. Surprisingly, Exxaro Resources has only one female director while another empowerment group, African Rainbow Minerals, has only t wo female directors out of 14 board seats – the largest directorate of the SA companies studied by Finweek.
Mike Teke, president of t he Chamber of Mines, c omments that it ’s no surprise that boards on which women serve perform better i n business, but l i nks t his to t he importance of establishing diversity. “We shouldn’t stop this conversation, though; we need to get better and transform more,” he says.
Impala Platinum leads the way, incidentally. Of its 12-strong board, nearly half – f i ve i n tota l – a re women. Roughly a quarter of the boards of Anglo American and its listed-subsidiary companies consist of women, although mostly in nonexecutive roles.
‘Bawdy banter’ and the ‘ boys’ club’ culture were seen by the Women in Mining survey to be one of the major inhibitors to appointing women to mining company boards, but there are other less sinister factors at work as well.
“The most common degrees for female directors on mining boards are f inance and economics with the most of the men holding mining and engineering degrees,” said Carole Ferguson, an analyst for Numis Securities in the UK.
“Some would argue that is one of the main reasons there are not enough women on the board, particularly in executive roles. Arguably women with engineering degrees who are talented have choices and mining may not be their top pick,” Ferguson said.