MEC’s CEO breakfast tackles diversity and flexibility

Executives from Anglo American, Adani, Queensland Resources Council, Metro Mining and JukesTodd joined an interactive discussion led by MEC’s Maria Joyce at MEC’s first CEO round-table breakfast.

The exclusive event on 6 February 2018 at The Brisbane Club was an opportunity for industry leaders to have a frank, robust discussion about some of the most pressing and complex issues facing mining today. The small panel of invited guests from a diverse range of backgrounds was brought together to share their own experiences and provide a nuanced view around themes relating to:

  • diversity & inclusion
  • flexibility in the workplace.

Speaking about the purpose of the event, Maria Joyce explained, “As an industry, I think it’s crucial that we are constantly pushing for excellence in everything we do. I believe collaboration arms us with the knowledge to make better-informed decisions to solve the challenges we face within our own organizations. This is exactly why we created our CEO breakfasts.”


In addressing questions around diversity in mining organisations, Maria focused on gender diversity and raising the number of women in the industry. “While organisations are aware of the documented benefits of gender diversity (BHP has set a target of a 50/50 gender balance by 2025 company-wide), how should organisations increase female participation ethically and sustainably, without negatively impacting workplace culture and disadvantaging any group?”

Discussion included insights from Olivia Webbe, who was a key facilitator of the Australian Defence Force’s diversity campaign targeted specifically at attracting females back in 2014. Olivia outlined the military’s approach and some of the cultural challenges the campaign faced. The round-table agreed that organizations should take on a wholistic view when selecting candidates for roles, considering the diversity spread across their entire team, not just the top candidate for a specific role.  The importance of diversity of thought needs to be well understood by the workforce before initiatives such as diversity targets are introduced.  Education around conscious and unconscious biases should be introduced to help support an inclusive environment and culture.


What does the future of flexible working look like for the resources sector?

Maria referenced a report by Deloitte on the intergenerational demand for more flexible work arrangements: “Payrolls across many organisations span three generations – Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y – each with different leadership, communication, working and learning styles. What they do have in common is a desire for more workplace flexibility. Nearly all millennials (92 percent) say that flexibility is a top priority. Almost half (45 percent) of working parents are very concerned about having more time to spend with their families – and that number increases to 72 percent for those who are simultaneously balancing parenting and caregiving responsibilities. Boomers say that the freedom to choose when and where they work motivates them to give discretionary effort.”

Attendees talked about the added layers of complexity present in the resources sector, including:

  • generational differences
  • FIFO rosters
  • demanding travel schedules placed on senior executives
  • rotating shift rosters
  • remote locations with limited childcare options.

“Our industry is incredibly dynamic,” said Maria, “and it really calls for an elastic, sustainable workplace to help retain talent. It’s such a fine balancing act; we need to ensure this flexibility aligns with the overarching strategic objectives of our organisations”

Discussions also revolved around the role of technology in facilitating greater flexibility, and balancing that with the practicalities and benefits of a face-to-face workplace. Guests shared the ways in which their respective companies are working towards greater flexibility while upholding productivity and strategic ambitions.

The breakfast yielded some fantastic insights and ideas. We thank those who attended and look forward to our next CEO round-table breakfast.