Though mining companies have made some progress in establishing gender balance in their headquarters, gender disparities are not addressed on mine sites, a new report said.
"Gender in affected communities and in the workplace is largely ignored," a new report from the Responsible Mining Foundation said.
Company-wide action on gender in affected communities remains at a very low level, according to the RMI Report 2022. The best-performing company out of the 40 mining companies, Anglo-American, surveyed only scored 36% in achieving gender-related goals.
Action on gender issues usually only happens when governments or ESG guidelines require it, the report found.
One example is Chilean miner Codelco following gender-in-the-workforce measures as it is enshrined in a national standard.
Mining companies have also been "very selective" in deciding which gender-related workplace concerns they would like to address.
Success in implementing policies to support gender action is also more frequent when it is easily manageable, the report found. The number of companies that have increased the number of women on their boards attests to this finding, as it is easily managed, visible in corporate reporting, and trackable.
Requirements from industry associations, such as those put forward by the World Gold Council and The Copper Mark, say little on gender impact assessments on mine sites, providing little guidance to mining companies.
As a result of these factors, some 98% of the 250 mine sites visited as part of the RMI Report found no evidence that women had been consulted on the development of local procurement programs, the management of air and water quality, and the development of rehabilitation and post-closure plans.
Mining companies may be doing work on these fronts and not recording it, RMI said. Reporting on progress on ESG targets has been very limited, with mining companies limiting themselves to consolidated reporting and aggregated figures, instead of more site-specific data.
Several mining companies in the study have made efforts to work with women in affected communities, by developing company-wide programmed on preventing sexual harassment and violence and creating programs to ensure personal protective equipment which fit women's bodies.
The report recommends that mining companies review their existing policies, procedures, and systems to check for gender bias, as well as tracking and reporting gender-aggregated data on recruitment, retention, and representation in different levels of the mining company's workforce.
The organisation also pushes mining operations to conduct regular gender impact assessments, and act on any recommendations that follow.
A recent report published by McKinsey & Company also focused on gender in the mining workplace, focusing on the industry's office workers. The report found that mining companies had trouble retaining women and providing women with opportunities to advance.