Sam Houston: I love working with people; I love being a leader; I love the mining industry; and I started looking at the challenges the industry has around EDI, equality, diversity and inclusion.
And these are pretty well known. There’re a lot of barriers to entry to the mining industry for people, based on the relative remoteness of a lot of the operations, the very well known and well acknowledged macho culture within the industry.
It’s seen as being quite an autocratic type of culture. It’s quite hierarchical. And I think a lot of people, particularly the younger generations, are struggling with adapting to that kind of work environment. So I thought, how do we change that; what can we do to improve EDI within mining?
There are proven benefits by the increase that comes from diversity in creativity, innovation, generally performance and effectively profitability and that kind of comes around;I think there’s a lot of correlating effects from other aspects that this generally brings into play.
If an organisation is generally promoting diversity, they’re generally also promoting a more people centric approach. And that’s been proven to increase performance and innovation. And what we’re seeing a lot in the research is that without buy-in from senior leaders, into the broader equality, diversity and inclusion aspects throughout the whole organisation, then generally, you just don’t see it happen at all.
So that’s why it’s really important for senior leaders with different ways of thinking to be brought into those senior management teams in mining so that we can have knock on effects throughout the whole stakeholder environment, not just the organisation but supply chain, the communities that we operate within and eventually, ultimately, it leads to that social licence benefits.
Technology risk, for instance, it’s just not going to be solved by our traditional, frankly, pale, male and stale type senior management teams. So it seems too much to ask of the current senior management teams with their current construct, to actually be able to approach some of these major disruptive risks with the knowledge that they need to have. It’s just in terms of the technology, one in particular, why wouldn’t you bring in someone from another industry; from the tech industry? Why wouldn’t you bring in younger people who have a different approach to technology, who, understand technology a lot better than, the people who are in those senior management teams at the moment?
The majority of the mining, of the of the senior leaders that I spoke with, felt that there was probably a lot more work that needed to be done around equality and demographic diversity before we start looking at something like cognitive diversity, particularly in senior management teams, which I felt was quite an interesting finding from the research and to be honest with you, I just don’t agree with that, really.
I feel like we’ve got a track record of decades of trying to make change, sustainable change, around EDI within mining, and it’s just not happening. So I think there needs to be something more fundamental that changes within the industry, and particularly at that senior executive and board level. And it needs to be something disruptive in itself. So, I think that there’s a long way to go.
I’m doing additional work with other industry partners, including some big recruitment and people consulting firms, and hoping to develop some frameworks and toolkits, some tools, some exemplars, those kinds of things to be able to help senior leaders manage and develop diversity within their teams and to recognise that cognitive diversity is a really important thing for them to start being aware of, and actually making some decisions on, particularly because of that link between demographic diversity and cognitive diversity.
So I think there’re some gaps that need to be filled around the research and around those practical themes that can help people leaders to make the right decisions around demographic and cognitive diversity in their teams.
See the full video on the FOM365 website.