2014 Women in Resources Award Winners Announced

CME's 2014 Women in Resources Awards have been presented today.

Four inspiring women working in the resources sector, an outstanding company initiative and even one man have today been recognised at the Women in Resources Awards 2014 presented by the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia (CME).

CME Chief Executive Reg Howard-Smith presented the awards at a breakfast ceremony, attended by more than 1,000 people.  The event also featured a panel of industry leaders and experts discussing a unified approach to workforce diversity.

“The awards celebrate the inspirational women we have working here in Western Australia, men and women who are champions for gender diversity and the efforts of companies in the sector to improve participation of women in our workforce,” said Mr Howard-Smith.

CME research shows the number of women employed in the resources sector remains around 20% of the sector’s total workforce. While the national female participation rate across all industries stands at 43%.

“By recognising company initiatives and outstanding individuals, the awards inspire others to strengthen the number of women working in the sector.  We expect to see more women employed as the sector transitions from construction into a production phase and as women undertake careers which provide potential for career advancement, good conditions, global travel and a work-life balance,” said Mr Howard-Smith.

Resources companies have recognised the strong business case for having a diverse team.  Extensive research has shown increased diversity correlates strongly with improved workplace behaviours, higher morale, reduced employee turnover, improved decision-making, more creative problem-solving, improved productivity and improved safety.

“Put simply, diversity builds stronger and more prosperous companies,” said Mr Howard-Smith.

The winners are:

2014 Outstanding Company Initiative - St Barbara Mining Ltd: Eliminating the Gender Pay Gap

St Barbara has implemented a systematic and sustainable approach to reduce the pay equity gap.  Six years ago the Human Resources (HR) practices at St Barbara were transactional, consisting mostly of recruitment with no linkage to the business strategy. A remuneration strategy did not exist and the pay equity gap was a staggering 43%.

From a standing-start in 2007, St Barbara now has in place a HR Strategy that is hard-wired to the company’s business strategy and approved by the Board. The success of each of the six strategic HR priorities is underpinned by diversity. To support these priorities a comprehensive Talent Management Framework has been implemented.  Consistent with the strategic HR priorities, in respect of gender diversity, St Barbara now has:

  • a competitive and effective remuneration system;
  • industry-leading parental leave provisions including attractive return to work incentives;
  • a gender diversity policy; and
  • robust gender diversity targets to measure success.

These initiatives are approved by the Board, led by the Executive Leadership Team, and reviewed regularly by the Board.  The gap has reduced from 43% in 2007 to 15.9% in 2013.

2014 Outstanding Operator/Technician/Trade Woman in Resources – Emma Stevenson (BHP Billiton Nickel West)

Emma commenced her career as a Process Technician with Kimberly Diamonds then joined BHP Billiton Nickel West Leinster as a Process Technician in 2008. Emma recently completed her apprenticeship and has secured an Electrical Instrumentation Technician position.

In a non-traditional field for women, Emma has performed exceptionally well and is working hard to achieve her potential in academic studies and on-the-job trade skills. Emma completed her Capstone ahead of schedule in 2013, and gained praise and respect from lecturers, fellow students, tradespeople, supervisors and department leaders.

Emma is an active fundraiser and as a member of the Perth Belles group, a branch of the Country Women’s Association, organises social and fundraising occasions for young women in Perth. She is also a member of the BHP Billiton Matched Giving program.

2014 Outstanding Woman in Resources – Kyra Bonney (McConnell Dowell)

Kyra Bonney is a Guburn (Kupurn) woman from the Goldfields region of Western Australia.  Kyra completed a mining traineeship at the age of 19, as the only female Indigenous trainee to complete the course at that time. This lead to 13-year career with large mining companies, as an operator and blast crew member on remote sites.  Kyra developed a passion to help other Indigenous people and completed a Bachelor of Applied Science in Indigenous Community Management and Development.

Inspired by the content of her studies and the challenges she faced as an operator, Kyra created her consultancy business, KBIC, in 2012, with a vision of providing services which ‘bridge the cultural divide’ between companies, Indigenous employees and community stakeholders. Her company now provides support to several WA resources companies which are seeking to train, employ and retain Indigenous Australians.

While juggling motherhood, full-time studies, and work, Kyra remains focused on the positive outcomes these endeavours bring.  She is the youngest board member of the Aboriginal Lands Trust, Deputy Chairperson for the HALO project - an Indigenous youth leadership program - and a trainer/mentor for Ignite Basketball, a community initiative that uses sport to engage and develop young people in disadvantaged areas.

2014 Outstanding Young Woman in Resources – Heidi Edwards (Rio Tinto Iron ore)

Heidi leads the maintenance engineering team responsible for Rio Tinto Iron Ore’s hydrocarbon assets across the Pilbara. Heidi’s vision is for her team to be leaders in their field, achieving best practice in design, commissioning and maintenance. Heidi’s experience in the resources sector has developed her passions for engineering, innovation and leadership.

Some of Heidi’s career highlights include managing a $3.2 million upgrade of a new fuel facility, at less than 65% of the original budget in less than half of the original timeframe and developing and implementing Pilbara-wide strategies for management of oily water assets and diesel filtration assets, resulting of cost savings of over $1 million.

Heidi is passionate about equipping people to help themselves. With this goal in mind, she has volunteered in various roles, including teaching English to new immigrants, running computer tutorials and developing computer-based tools to help small business owners in automated business reporting.

2014 Women in Resources Champion – Stuart Forrester (Iluka Resources)

Stuart's passion for diversity comes from his belief that a diverse team creates a challenging workplace that facilitates flexibility and drives growth through differing values, skill sets and backgrounds.   He believes when you employ the right person, it is much easier and takes less time to up-skill people than to change people's values and behaviours.

Stuart facilitated a fundamental change to the way Iluka approaches recruitment. The job criterion was amended to attract people without previous mining experience. Given that it is difficult to pick up on values and standards of behaviours when reading a resume, it was necessary to broaden the scope of the pool of interviewees. The interview process was modified to include questions that explored applicants' commitment, integrity and responsibility, aligning with Iluka's key values.

Up-skilling people who came into the business with no previous experience became a priority, so Stuart improved Iluka’s training systems to meet the needs of new recruits who had the right values and behaviours, but required more training to carry out their jobs.

By adopting a new approach to recruitment, the number of female employees at Iluka's Narngulu operation increased from 16.5% in 2012 to 25.4% in 2013 and from zero to 20% in operations crews over the past three years. Instead of one demographic with similar backgrounds reinforcing certain dominant behaviours, Narngulu now has male, female and Indigenous employees of different ages from a range of backgrounds, expertise and experience and a more consistent and higher standard of behaviours

Stuart’s commitment is also reflected in the work he has been undertaking with the Clontarf Academy and more recently the SHINE program, an education program established in Western Australia.

2014 People’s Choice Award – Rachel Mottram (Alcoa of Australia)

Rachel has been a member of both Wagerup and Pinjarra refineries’ lead teams accountable for manufacturing improvement initiatives across refinery processes and systems. She has run refinery maintenance and production teams and has significant experience in process engineering and complex mineral processing operations in all areas of the Bayer Process.

A significant highlight of her 17-year career with Alcoa of Australia was being promoted to a senior management role at the age of just 30. She became Operating Centre Manager at Wagerup Refinery in 2005, making her the ‘first ‘home grown’ female engineering graduate to secure such a senior position in such a short timeframe and within what has been a traditionally male dominated work environment.

Rachel has a real desire to make a difference in the world and as such values the opportunity to contribute to her local community. She does that with her family, volunteering at sporting clubs. Rachel’s voluntary involvement with the Alcoa Women’s Network has afforded her the opportunity to be a mentor to other women in the workplace who are entering similar phases of their lives. Rachel has also managed to fit in study for an MBA.