We believe that a diverse workforce makes us stronger. We want our workforce to represent the diversity of the communities in which we operate. This means creating the right conditions to attract and retain a diverse workforce.
Our focus in 2019 was on increasing gender diversity at Pan American Silver because we see women as drivers of positive long-term change for our operations. To help us create opportunities and conditions to attract and retain women, we worked hard to understand the actual and perceived challenges they face. These challenges include several interconnected and long-standing issues.
- Cultural norms – In some parts of Latin America, women were not allowed in underground mines. While this may no longer be the case, a predominate culture of machismo can lead to non-acceptance of female colleagues, harassment, discrimination, and resistance to women in leadership roles. In addition, legislation in many countries provides insufficient social support, such as maternity leave coverage and childcare funding, to encourage women with children to work full time.
- Equipment and facilities – Traditional mining equipment is not sized appropriately for women.
- Location of operations – Mines are often located in remote areas, far from workers’ homes and families. In Latin America, traditional gender roles make domestic work as well as child and elder care the responsibility of women. This means that working on site may not be a viable option for women who do not live in mining camps or close to the site. Female workers who do live in a mining camp may be better able to balance the requirements of work and home, provided the camp offers such social services as adequate child and health care.
It is not the role of Pan American Silver to change existing norms or practices in the countries where we operate, but we do collaborate with governments and communities in working toward transformational changes with existing cultural dynamics. Our primary responsibility is, however, to attract and develop the best talent, to create work environments that foster optimal contributions, and to ensure that our operations run safely and efficiently. To help women feel safer, valued, and empowered to contribute, at our sites we:
- facilitated focus groups and conversations to better understand women’s needs and expectations around diversity and inclusion;
- delivered training and workshops on respect for women in the workplace; and
- provided training on sexual harassment laws to help employees recognize and respond appropriately
This work has entrenched our belief that a respectful workplace is the foundation for building an inclusive workplace in which diversity is the norm and individuals feel safe, are treated fairly, and receive equal opportunity to develop and advance.
Building Respect Together Program
In 2020, we will be piloting our Building Respect Together program with the intention of creating more respectful, safer, and sustainable work environments. The program will also include content to foster greater understanding and protection of, and respect for women’s rights. We are developing metrics to evaluate the program’s effectiveness and will be reporting progress in future reports.
The program has five components:
- Respect – establishing respectful understanding
- Awareness – developing assertiveness and empathy
- Self-Esteem – understanding who you are
- Teamwork – working collaboratively
- Managing Differences – communicating effectively
Our primary responsibility is, however, to attract and develop the best talent, to create work environments that foster optimal contributions, and to ensure that our operations run safely and efficiently.