A future for women in mining

Written by Emma Dawson • Online since 3.03.2016 • Filed under Industry news • From Issue 3 - March 2016 - August 2016 page(s) 2-3
    A future for women in mining

Wesizwe is committed to providing an environment that is conducive to attracting, developing and retaining women in mining. EMMA DAWSON talks to BASETSANA RAMABOA, Executive: Human Resources at Wesizwe, about creating gender equality and recognising the role of women in this traditionally male-dominated industry WESIZWE PLATINUM is a South African public company with shares listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Its intention is to participate in platinum group metals mining in South Africa as the launch pad for developing into a significant multi-commodity mining company that sets new benchmarks for sustainable mining practices. According to Wesizwe’s Basetsana Ramaboa, Executive: Human Resources, mining is the heartbeat of the South African economy. ‘It’s about time that the role of women in the growth of the economy gets recognised, and Wesizwe’s policies are aimed at creating a conducive environment for all its employees, including creating an environment that’s favourable for women.’ She adds: ‘Wesizwe fosters a workplace where all individuals are treated with respect and dignity. We do not condone any form of unfair discrimination that infringes on the values enshrined in South Africa’s Constitution.’ South Africa is making great strides in gender equality, which is often used as a model for other countries. ‘Women study and obtain training just as men do. However, in the mining sector, like many others, there’s a stereotype that needs to be abolished. Women head homes, as well as study towards professions that were once viewed as relevant only to men. Why would women not have equal opportunities and be viewed on an equal basis as men?’, Basetsana asks.

Walking the talk

‘Wesizwe’s policies are guided by all promulgated legislation that govern employment and, together with the company’s values and its job specifications for each job category, we have a clear outline of the steps to take to ensure the appointment, safety and specific needs of women in mining.’

Discussing doing away with gender barriers, Basetsana notes: ‘Fairness is one of our values. We emphasise the importance of walking the talk when it comes to our values and this is ingrained in the way we do things at Wesizwe. We treat everyone as equals in terms of the aspects of the job and output expected from employees. This levels the playing field for employees and motivates everyone to act in a manner that reinforces our values and the Wesizwe brand identity.’ Wesizwe women are afforded opportunities on an equal basis to their male counterparts. ‘We motivate professionalism in everything we do and women are given a platform to perform to the best of their capabilities, not in competition with men but in a way that puts them on par with their male counterparts,’ she insists.

When asked how men relate to, and treat, their female colleagues at Wesizwe, Basetsana comments: ‘Women have always been a part of industry, even before it became popular for them to work in male-dominated domains. While they may previously have been employed to take care of the places where men worked, in our business men are beginning to view women as adding value to the way things are done in mining. Women bring a sensitive element to the way miners do their jobs, which helps us to be alert to issues of safety and other aspects of our work.’ Wesizwe currently employs 2.77% of  women in its workforce. ‘This low percentage is attributed to the fact that the company is still in its project development phase. After the five years (effective from 2015), this figure will go up to 15%, which is in line with our Social and Labour Plan commitment,’ Batesana points out.

A conducive work environment

Programmes focused on creating a conducive work environment for women include: Recruitment and selection: Based on business needs, this is a targeted process that is used to achieve a minimum of 10% WiM (Women in Mining) targets. All positions are assessed in terms of preferential female employment. Safety: Appropriate risk assessments are conducted for all positions that are occupied by female employees. Candidates undertake a physical capacity testing to ensure compatibility with the planned roles, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is provided to meet the needs of female employees. ‘Additionally, we groom a culture of “my brother’s keeper” among all our employees that sees them lending a hand when there is a need, regardless of gender.’ Health: No pregnant or breast feeding employee is placed in an environment deemed to be a potential threat to the well-being of the mother and/or child as defined in the company’s maternity policy. Additionally, Wesizwe adheres to the Basic Conditions of Employment relating to maternity leave.

Harassment: Wesizwe does not tolerate harassment of its staff, contractors or suppliers in any form. Sexual harassment of any kind is taken seriously and disciplinary actions are enforced, which may result in dismissal if an incident does occur. ‘We have a detailed policy on harassment and promote gender equality, which means all actions that have a tendency to undermine one gender are viewed in a severe light and serious action is taken.’

Affording opportunities

Wesizwe works hard to achieve equal opportunities for men and women, and to ensure that personnel do not have to overcome any difficult challenges in their work environments. ‘For the company to achieve its goals we need everyone focused on doing their work and not on overcoming challenges relating to their jobs. We afford everyone the opportunity to showcase their talents and skills and upskill everyone in the same manner so there is no possibility of unfairness, favouritism, or barriers to success,’ Basetsana explains. ‘Our aim is to see women thriving in the mining space, and a workplace that embraces diversity and capitalizes on it as a means for growth. Women bring about that diversity. Women’s roles are not secondary but rather complimentary to men’s, and they play a vital role in nurturing the mining industry,’ she adds. ‘We believe that women should be given space to do their jobs and to strategically think about the future of the company. Wesizwe’s Chairperson of the Board is a woman, and that is where we see all women in Wesizwe,’ Basetsana concludes.

Wesizwe

W www.wesizwe.co.za

Issue 3 - March 2016 - August 2016

Issue 3 - March 2016 - August 2016

This article was featured on page 2-3 of SABI Magazine Issue 3 - March 2016 - August 2016 .

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