How Can We Create A Gender-Diverse Workplace In Metals & Mining

As India strongly emerges as a global manufacturing hub, the time has come for the sector to bridge that talent gap with women professionals, who are highly underrepresented in the sector and capitalise on their skills and talent for business growth

Anjali Pawar
Updated On
New Update
Women in metals and mining
What may have once started as a social justice movement, has increasingly become a source of competitive advantage for organisations.

Many studies suggest that a diverse workforce promotes more prolific ideation, innovation, a better mix of skills, higher engagement, better talent attraction & retention, and proficient decision-making, all of which led to better-rounded solutions and greater customer fulfilment – all the drivers of better business. The business case and advantages for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) are getting stronger with each passing day.

Women in metals and mining: Manufacturing for the Future

What, then, makes the metals & mining industry a special case?

The upcoming decades are going to be very metal-intensive, with metals & minerals crucial to energy transition playing a critical role in the path to a low-carbon future. Gearing up for such a scenario requires the industry to utilise human capital in the best way possible, for manufacturing innovative products, high-end applications, and sustainable solutions for a better tomorrow.

And yet, globally, the gender diversity ratio in manufacturing and heavy engineering, even in developed countries, is in the low single digits. And this deficit is even more acute in the metals & mining industry, making them the biggest industry sectors employing the least number of women, particularly in core operations. There is also a supply-demand imbalance in the number of technically qualified women with engineering, geology, mining, or even science backgrounds.

As India strongly emerges as a global manufacturing and value-addition hub, the time has come for the manufacturing sector to bridge that talent gap with women professionals, who are highly underrepresented in the sector and capitalise on their skills, experience and talent for business growth.


What can organisations do?

The secret sauce that can make workplaces more diverse and inclusive in the industry-

● Organisations need to look at every role, no matter how non-traditional, as absolutely gender-agnostic, which means any employee can be considered for any position in the organisation irrespective of their gender – from production, plant operations and maintenance to fire-fighting, literally.

● There is a proactive need to hire women talent, like all employees, for their attitude and passion to grow, and sound educational and technical qualifications, and then go about providing them with the best possible training and mentorship from global experts and leaders in an ecosystem ensuring they are consistently supported at various life stages.

● Rich job content and meaningful responsibilities for employees need to be ensured, so that no matter what life stage women professionals are in, they have enough motivation to continue.

● Additionally, the industry needs to harness the world’s best and even emerging technologies to the maximum, giving employees (men and women alike) a level playing field to do the proverbial heavy lifting jobs, in a secure, sustainable, and globally standardized manner. Talk about epitomising this year’s theme for International ‘Women’s Day – DigitALL: Innovation & technology for gender equality’!

The 21st-century women are increasingly leading meaningful and critical job responsibilities on the shop floor as well as in strategic decision-making in the industry.

The industry still has a long way to go, of course, till ambitious diversity targets are met, but the momentum is certainly encouraging.

Diversity, or Inclusion?


Creating a diverse workforce is a matter of intent and intelligent talent acquisition. For manufacturing industries, markets, customers and businesses are diverse and complex. To match that, the industry players need to strategise recruitment of talent with diverse experiences, skills, education, etc. so that the business plans they formulate, the problems they solve, and the innovations they make are correspondingly well-rounded to accelerate business growth.

On the other hand, welcoming diverse points of view, and instilling a sense of belongingness, empowerment, and pride in the workforce requires a shift in organisational mindset and employee culture. So, while ensuring that the organisations have a diverse mix of people working, the priority should be to build a culture of inclusion and respect amongst the employee base.

It is important to elevate the conversation from diversity to inclusion, for only through inclusivity can organisations reap the full rewards of diversity. With the collaborative and consistent efforts of academia and industry towards diversity and inclusivity, we are increasingly celebrating women leaders across the ranks and files in the manufacturing industry, who are and will be deftly leading multiple functions with their own different perspectives, empathy, compassion, and attention to detail to problem-solving, besides pure technical prowess and superlative performance.

Anjali Pawar is Head – Reliability, Vedanta BALCO and views expressed by the author are their own.

Suggested Reading: Importance Of Representation: Why We Need More Women’s Voices In Boardrooms

gender inclusivity Women workforce