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Women in mining

The mining industry is working to diversify its workforce to transform a previously male-dominated industry into one that embraces diversity of people and thought. Gender parity in the workplace has been proven to not only improve company culture, but also to have a positive impact on a business’ bottom line and its long-term value. The mining industry – alongside its leading bodies, companies, and contractors – are all implementing initiatives to rebrand the industry as one that is diverse, inclusive, and contributes positively to the community.

Liebherr Mining celebrates the many talented and determined women that work with us every day. We’ve taken the opportunity to get to know some of our international workforce by chatting to them about why they chose a career in mining.

What attracted you to a career in the mining industry?

Samantha: Working in the mining industry was something I had always wanted to do, mainly because sitting at a computer all day wasn’t something that intrigued me. I like the fact that if you work in the mines there are so many opportunities and avenues to better yourself and your career.

Alicia: I believe that the mining industry has excellent prospects for a career, both domestically and abroad. In addition, the challenges and experiences offered by this industry intrigues me to explore it. Life in this industry is very challenging, so I wish to be able to grow into a strong person both physically and mentally.

Emilie: I started working in the mining industry mainly by chance. I had no special vocation for it. In France – and in other European countries – we are not surrounded by a mining culture like the USA or Australia. I had barely even heard of mining before starting to work in this industry. Today I can say that I really enjoy working in the mining industry because it is very diversified. I like the gigantic side of the things: the machines, the mine sites, and the scale of the projects.

What is your role and how did you get to where you are today?

Samantha: I am a third-year plant mechanic apprentice. How did I get here? Well, when I was working at KFC, I scrolled on Seek [an online employment marketplace] to see which apprenticeships were out there. Liebherr was looking for first-year apprentices. I clicked the link to apply and a few weeks later I had the job. Now three years down the track I’m a female apprentice on a contract out at a customer site – Mangoola – on a heavy crew, working on a whole bunch of different machines.

Alicia: My current position is a field service technician. The main duty of this position is to provide services in the form of repair and maintenance of units on site. I graduated from St. Petersburg State Transport University with a major in mechanical engineering, specialising in railway rolling stock. I got to my position after going through the selection process held by Liebherr Indonesia.

Emilie: I work as an application engineer for Liebherr Mining. I cover Africa, Europe, and Asia. My job consists of providing sales support to promote the performance of our machines. I make sure the customer is buying the right machine for their needs to ensure user satisfaction. For machines already in operation, my job is to ensure that the machine is used correctly: checking operating techniques, set-up, organisation of the loading area, operational efficiency (load/haul and best truck match), and operating conditions.

It is a consulting role to build up loyalty and to ensure satisfaction and future sales. Mining machines are used very intensively, and renewals are frequent (every 5 to 10 years depending on the size of the machine), which is why it is important to always be present in this very competitive industry.

What’s the best part about working for Liebherr?

Samantha: The best part would have to be the people you work with on a daily basis. They’re all amazing people who are more than willing to teach me everything I need to know. I’m constantly learning and working in a team that works so well together.

Alicia: For me, the best parts of working for Liebherr are the opportunity to learn, develop my skills, and collaborate with my peers who are proficient in their fields. Other than that, the working environment and its people are extremely welcoming and encouraging. As a new recruit, I managed to gain tremendous knowledge from my seniors.

Emilie: Liebherr as a group is very well perceived in the industry, which is enjoyable in your everyday work! Also, working for a family-owned company with strong values has become essential for me. Compared to other companies I have worked for I can really feel the impact of these values on all employees and on the quality of our products as well.

Why are you passionate about your work in this industry?

Samantha: I am contributing to the reason a digger [excavator] or truck is up and running. You’re getting up close and watching how everything works. You never stop learning in this industry. It’s something I could never get bored doing.

Alicia: What makes me passionate about working in this industry is that there are constant challenges and new developments that drive me to be more competent.

Emilie: I like the fact that every project is unique. Every time I am involved in a new mining project, I have to understand the essence of it and what the customer’s expectations and limitations are. I never do the same thing twice and I really appreciate it. I like that we participate in the extraction of raw materials that are used in many other industries. They are resources that we all need. In my work, I try to help customers to do their job in the best possible way by optimising all resources, processes, and means. I feel more comfortable having our machines do the extraction work rather than having people with bad tools doing this work with high risks.

Women in mining around the world

Recent estimates suggest that women make up approximately 8–17% of the global mining workforce. Women hold a vast range of roles within mining, from operational to technical to managerial. However, women are more likely to hold support roles in areas such as administration and marketing.

Global efforts are being made across a range of industries – including mining – to increase the number of women in leadership roles. In 2017, leading social impact organisation Parity.Org launched the international ParityPledge for women. Companies who sign this pledge make a public commitment to interview at least one qualified female candidate for every vacant Vice President, C-Suite, and Board position. In the first 18 months of the ParityPledge, 73% of the organisations that signed the pledge added at least one woman to their executive staff and 56% added at least one woman to their board of directors.

Do you feel like you’re positively contributing to the company, industry, and your wider community?

Samantha: In this industry, you’re always contributing to the business, whether that be in administration, the planning stages, or the parts department/warehouse. Being on the tools, you’re contributing to the controls that get put in place to keep yourself and other workers around you safe. I am part of a team that puts the bits together to build a machine and also executes the way a shutdown or a build has been planned. I am part of a business where you’re always working on a team that has a lot of different ideas and thoughts to make things work, or to make things better for the community – and the mining industry is its own community.

So yes, I do feel as if I make a positive contribution to the company and the wider community.

Alicia: Yes. I always try to do my utmost in every responsibility given to me. I believe that every contribution, no matter how small, can have a positive impact on my surroundings.

Emilie: Of course! The experience I acquired in my previous jobs has helped me to bring new skills to Liebherr. My position didn’t exist before and I’m very proud to facilitate the work of the sales teams. My work strengthens the sales arguments for our machines. This role provides real internal expertise that usually has to be outsourced. For new product developments, especially for the new zero emission mining topics, my field experience really benefits the engineering teams. Every day I am able to give feedback on our products and I work closely with our marketing department to create job reports that will be helpful for other sites.

How do you think women in the mining industry add a different perspective to the workplace and positively influence the success of the business?

Samantha: Having women in mining adds diversity to the industry. Women think a lot differently to men which gives the mining industry a lot more different perspectives about how things are done.

Alicia: The presence of women in the mining industry certainly provides a different perspective from what has existed before. The appearance of women can make the image of tough women better known to the public.

Emilie: In my opinion, professionalism and commitment are not gender related. However, having variety of different profiles is an asset for the workplace. I regret the fact that I don’t meet a lot of women who hold a position in sales or after-sales in our industry. For my job, what is required are observational skills, a critical and analytical mind, and curiosity; all skills that women and men have equally. I feel that women underestimate themselves; they think they are not capable of doing this kind of work.

What advice do you have for women considering a career in the mining industry?

Samantha: Don’t be scared, go for it. You won’t know until you try and give it your all.

Alicia: I strongly support women who want to pursue a career in the mining industry. But I also believe that every woman has her own specialties and deserves to work according to her passion, be it in the mining industry or any other industry. Be sure to have positive motivation when working so that any difficulties encountered can be overcome with enthusiasm and sincerity.

Emilie: Do not hesitate! We all have the abilities and strength to do the same job as a man. Do not underestimate yourself and don’t get overwhelmed. I am convinced that more representation of women could help to change mentalities. In general, women should take up all the technical professions that exist and not just in the mining industry. I would like to see more women in management too, to lead the way.

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