Getting the balance right today for our workforce of tomorrow

At Rio Tinto, we want everyone to feel valued, respected and able to contribute their best. That’s why inclusion and diversity is a key element of our culture and the way we work.

An inclusive culture and diverse workforce help us deliver superior performance by engaging our people, leveraging different perspectives and retaining the best talent.

Our goal is to continue to build a more inclusive workplace where everyone contributes to Rio Tinto’s success. To do this, we focus our efforts in key areas, including ensuring a 50-50 gender split in our graduate intake.

Creating an inclusive workplace culture also means offering flexible work options, focusing on gender diversity in our employment pathways including trainees and apprentices and partnering with educational institutions to encourage STEM career paths.

Recognising and promoting our talented women

We have some talented women in our business and ensure they are recognised. In 2020 we saw several of our female employees advance into senior roles.

Meet Mhairi

Mhairi Cameron, manager Fixed Plant, West Angelas

Mhairi Cameron recently became the first female manager of fixed plant at our West Angelas operations. Not only has Mhairi progressed through the ranks, she is passionate about building diversity in our workforce and champions a number of initiatives to address our future skills requirements and improve female participation.

“Supporting women in their mining career and advocating for fair and equal opportunities for women is so important to me. There’s a lot that I’m doing to try to make a difference – I’m a mentor, I lead trainee programs and I work with leaders too, encouraging them to seek out opportunities to create more diverse teams. One program I’m really excited about is the training program at our Gudai-Darri iron ore project in Western Australia. This program is the first of its kind for Rio Tinto Iron Ore and encourages young women to take the step into the resources sector. So far, we’ve selected eight women with no mining experience to complete one year of training and work at West Angelas before becoming the first fixed plant operators at Gudai-Darri. I’ve also recently been behind an initiative through which we recruited more than 80 green female operators into our Iron Ore business.”

Improving gender balance through employment pathways

Welcoming our 2020 Vacation Program students

To make sure our workforce and leaders of tomorrow reflect the diversity of our community, we look at our employment pathways including vacation students, graduates, trainees and apprentices and make sure we get the balance right today.

We’ve been working on ensuring a solid gender balance in our intake of trainees, graduates and apprentices and have seen some great results. In 2020, more than half of our 50 graduate intake was female, while our female apprentices made up 42 per cent of the total intake – a huge increase from 18 per cent the year before.

We’ve also been working creatively to improve pathways into the business, including non-trade entry opportunities. At our Greater Tom Price operations, the team has introduced Trade Assistant roles to provide career opportunities in maintenance. This facilitates local employment, female and Indigenous entry opportunities.

Meet Lavina

Lavina Nona had a childcare background before joining Rio Tinto as a green operator. She is now a trades assistant working in Mobile Equipment Maintenance (MEM) at Tom Price.

“I’ve come in green without knowing anything about a mine site at all. It’s the first time I’ve stepped onto a mine site and into a workshop and it’s so different – I love it. Working alongside my teammates has inspired me to learn more and push myself to apply for an apprenticeship, which I’ve recently done. I would never have thought there’d be many Indigenous women out here, but the dynamic is great – I feel very comfortable. I’ve found my place and feel very welcomed.

This role has set me and my family up for the future. My advice for Indigenous women wanting to get into the industry is to just do it. I did it and haven’t regretted it since.”

Building diversity through partnerships

Since 2014, Rio Tinto has supported a UWA Girls in Engineering (GiE) program, engaging year 7-10 students in Science, Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM). This program was a finalist in the 2017 CME Women in Resources Awards.

During virtual and in-school visits, students learn about the many diverse disciplines of engineering, participate in hands-on activities and engage with female role models. While COVID-19 made 2020 challenging, the program reached 1,091 high school students from 43 different schools.

The program has strong outcomes, with GiE surveys finding 78.6 per cent of students reported an increased understanding of engineering, and the percentage of female students studying engineering at UWA increasing from 16 per cent in 2016 to 25 per cent in 2020.

We have also partnered with South Metropolitan TAFE to develop Australia’s first Vocational Education and Training (VET) qualifications in mining automation, providing new pathways to succeed in an increasingly STEM-based world. The partnership saw 28 high school students participate in 2020 and recently picked up gold in the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics (WFCP) 2020 Awards of Excellence. Four graduates are commencing in traineeship roles this month at Rio Tinto Iron Ore.

Offering flexibility

We know people perform at their best when they can balance their work and personal needs. Rio Tinto has a global approach to flexible work, offering a choice when it comes to where and when employees work, as well as compressed working weeks at our residential sites and Fly-In, Fly-Out lifestyle options, and part time and job share arrangements.

Meet Vicki

Vicki MacPherson and her granddaughter, Emily.
Vicki on site at Hope Downs 1

“I’m a driller at Rio Tinto’s Hope Downs 1 mine in the Pilbara, Western Australia. I love my role here and really enjoy the people I work with.

When I became a new grandparent to a little girl recently, I decided I wanted to be able to spend as much time with her as I could so took up the opportunity to job share.

I love spending time with ‘Princess Emily’. When I’m home, I pick her up and we go to the markets, go out for lunch and have lots of outings together.

It’s been great to have the flexibility to progress my career and integrate work and life in a way that works for me.”