‘It has no place’: Mining giants slam sexist comments
BHP and Queensland Resources Council have slammed sexist trolls who hijacked a Facebook post promoting gender diversity programs in the male-dominated mining industry.
The post about BHP's new leadership program to recruit more women and Indigenous people was recently shared to the WordOnTheHaulRoad Mining group.
The post - which included a photo of a group of women - attracted an onslaught of shocking comments from group members, including insults about their appearance and sexist remarks.
The comments included: "What are they supervising how the sandwiches are made at camps" and "they always love looking up".
A BHP spokesman said the company was disappointed by the comments, which had "no place in our business or industry".
"BHP is proud we foster a diverse and inclusive workplace," he said.
"We know from experience that a more diverse workforce is safer and more productive."
Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane echoed the sentiment, saying QRC and its member companies had worked hard to improve gender diversity in the sector.
"It's disappointing that in this day and age there are still pockets of a mindset which belongs squarely in the past when women were not given equal access to career opportunities," Mr Macfarlane said.
"It has no place in any workplace in Australia or anywhere in the world today."
What is being done to improve gender diversity in mining?
BMA's Supervisor and Superintendent Development Program officially kicked off in Moranbah last month.
The mining giant filled 40 new leadership roles with a mix of existing internal candidates and new to industry candidates looking to take on a leadership role.
Participants will embark on an 18-month journey of leadership and technical knowledge development to acquire all the requisite technical, statutory and leadership competencies needed to be signed on as a supervisor.
The second cohort started on Monday.
BHP's move to exclusively hire females and Indigenous Australians for the program was criticised by CFMEU Industry Safety and Health representative Steve Watts in June.
Mr Watts said putting miners' safety in the hands of inexperienced supervisors was "unacceptable".
But BHP was forging ahead with its goal of gender balance across its global workforce.
The mining giant has cited figures showing its inclusive and diverse teams have delivered 67 per cent fewer recordable injuries, 28 per cent lower unplanned absence rates, and up to 11 per cent higher planned and scheduled work delivery.
Meanwhile, QRC has created its Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy, which provides clear pathways into the sector with an emphasis on female and indigenous students.
Mr Macfarlane said research consistently showed greater diversity in resources workforces delivered safer, more innovative and more productive operations.
"This is not just anecdotal - it is borne out in our member companies' annual reports as well as economic research," he said.
But as well as being a sign of a progressive society, Mr Macfarlane said diversity was key to ensuring a thriving industry.
"It's not a case of wanting to employ men or women, it's a case of needing all hands on deck to ensure we have the skilled workforce that we need for our modern, technologically advanced resources sector," he said.
"Skills shortages generally align with occupations where women are significantly under-represented.
"For example, our companies are desperately in need of qualified trades people, and women make up just 5 per cent of our resources trades workforce.
"Women make up just 17 per cent of our engineers and just 12 per cent of our operator and production employees."
Where to from here?
Griffith University gender equality expert Elise Stephensen said this latest example of sexism in the mining industry showed society still had a "long way to go" in improving attitudes towards women in the workforce.
She said sexist attitudes continued to be an issue in male-dominated workplaces because it was still present in wider society.
"Diversity programs are a really important part of a wider suite of work you've got to do to address this," Dr Stephensen said.
"Because gender inequality is very pervasive - it is across our homes, education, religion and media - until we address it across all realms, it will remain an issue."
She said education and respectful conversations were also important tools to use.
"Vilifying those who are vilifying others very rarely works out to be a positive thing," Dr Stephensen said.