Promoting gender diversity in Chile

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Significant progress has been made towards gender equality and women's empowerment in the past 15 years, yet women and girls continue to suffer discrimination and violence worldwide. Gender equality is both a fundamental human right and necessary foundation for a sustainable world. Providing women and girls with equal access to education, healthcare, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision-making will promote sustainable economies and benefit societies at large. All ICMM members implement the 10 principles that underpin our Sustainable Development Framework. Principle 3 requires companies to respect human rights and the interests, cultures, customs and values of employees and communities.

When the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) officially came into force in January 2016, the nations of the world committed to mobilise efforts to end poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change. Business has a significant part to play, alongside governments and civil society, in creating pathways for a greener, safer and sustainable future for us all. Metals and minerals are essential to almost all aspects of everyday life; they enable farming, healthcare, communications, construction, transport and energy and water supply. And they will arguably become more important as they help to deliver the infrastructure required for a low-carbon future. This is one of a series of case studies gathered from our members to highlight how companies are working to enhance their contribution to society and help industry to manage potential adverse impacts their activities may have on the realisation of some of the SDGs.

Codelco has adopted a Gender Diversity Strategy in 2015, which is generating change across all its divisions. The company now has a Corporate Gender Diversity Directorate, Gender Diversity Leaders, and has created Gender Round Tables at each operational centre. As a state-owned mining company with over 18,600 employees and 47,000 contractors, Codelco is influential in the promotion of gender equality in Chile and contribute to SDG 5 “To achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”.

The Constitution of Chile recognises the equality of men and women. Women participate actively in the professional and political spheres (for example, Michele Bachelet has served two terms as President). However, only 48.4% of women participate in the labour market compared with 72% of men, well below the OECD average of 63.6%. Female participation in the mining sector is 8.1%, and less than 1% of these women are in senior decision-making positions.

In 2012 the Government issued a national standard on “Gender equality and reconciliation of professional, family and personal life” (NCh3262, 2012). Codelco has adopted this standard to guide its approach to promoting gender equality and an inclusive workplace.

Nelson Pizarro, Codelco’s CEO, asserts that, “gender and productivity are not separate issues. Through inclusion we are looking to be more competitive and to improve our performance as a company. This is why we are giving this topic so much attention and priority”.

A gradual approach

In 2007 Codelco was the first large-scale mining company to adhere to the national equality program of Chile’s National Department of Women (SERNAM). When President Bachelet officially opened the Gabriela Mistral mine, it boasted a record 25% female employees. In 2011 the company began pilot programmes to promote women’s participation in mining.

Gender diversity integrated into the governance framework

In 2015 the corporation developed a Gender Diversity Strategy. This was followed by the inclusion of a corporate policy on “Diversity, gender equality and reconciliation of work, family and personal life” in the corporate governance structure in 2016. Corporate policy addresses issues such as maternity protection, workplace discrimination, sexual harassment and domestic violence.

Codelco has ‘mainstreamed’ gender in the corporation through the inclusion of specific gender KPIs in annual performance requirements and in the Strategic Pact signed between the administration and trade unions, developing the Gender Policy Committee within the national Copper Workers Federation. A Sustainability Master Plan aims to ensure that Codelco has a gender diversity and inclusion framework compliant with international standards by 2020.

Actions on the ground to promote gender equality

Each operational centre has undertaken the official certification process under the national standard, NCh3262, including a gender gap analysis and development of an action plan to fill those gaps. Verónica Bravo, Corporate Director of Gender Diversity emphasises that, “This certification will help ensure that the changes we make are not isolated actions, but that they become a system that through feedback and adjustment improves year on year”.

Infrastructure modifications have been made to provide optimal conditions of safety, hygiene and comfort for men and women, including separate changing rooms and bathrooms, 13 rooms for expressing and storing breast milk, and suitable Personal Protective Equipment (women’s sizes in safety shoes, two-piece overalls, and overalls for pregnant women).

Balancing work and family life for women and men

To help build a better work/life balance each operational centre is developing options for flexible hours. For instance, the “Daddy at home” policy at Ministro Hales Mine allows men to spend more time at home during the first month after the birth of a baby. At Gabriela Mistral Mine a career development plan must be established for female employees before they go on maternity leave.

There are training and graduate programmes, which actively promote female participation, particularly at management and leadership levels.

In addition to these specific initiatives, since 2016 Codelco has implemented a range of corporation-wide information and awareness-raising activities to generate a cultural transformation within the organisation.

Key outcomes

Codelco’s commitment to promoting gender equality has resulted in a steady increase in female representation in its workforce over the past few years. The current figure is nine per cent, 0.9 per cent above the national average for the mining sector and up from six per cent in 2003.

At Gabriela Mistral mine, 20 per cent of the workforce are women, and the figure rises to 23 per cent in Codelco´s subsidiaries and affiliates. Codelco’s graduate program has 32 per cent female participation, and female participation in university student internships and training programs for directors of subsidiaries and affiliates has reached 43 per cent and 60 per cent respectively. This augurs well for future increases in the proportion of women in leadership and decision-making roles.

Six of Codelco’s ten operating centres have now achieved national certification under the NCh3262 Standard.

Setting targets for the future

Besides the certification of 60% of Codelco´s operational centres, the objectives in 2017 are to address the gender pay gap and to increase female participation in the workforce to 9.6 per cent across the board and to 12 per cent in leadership roles.

Codelco’s aim is that by 2020 all operational centres will have achieved certification. The diversity and inclusion framework will be fully implemented, and significant progress will have been made towards closing the gender pay gap.

By 2025 Codelco aims to have 11 per cent female participation in its overall workforce, 11 per cent in operative roles, 20 per cent in leadership roles and 33 per cent in its subsidiaries and affiliates.

ICMM members supporting the SDGs