After more than 20 years of democracy, many women are still being denied some of their rights and experience discrimination in the workplace. Bridging the gender gap has the power to boost productivity, increase economic diversification and decrease income equality, in addition to other positive development outcomes.
World leaders, realising the importance of bridging the gender gap, are pushing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which prioritises gender equality and promotes full and productive employment and decent work for all.
To date, many companies have unreservedly stepped up to the plate to empower women and girls in pursuing careers in various fields. One such company that continues to drive greater gender equality is Exxaro, a leading black-empowered resource company in South Africa.
To continue supporting diversity and inclusion in the workplace and in celebration of International Human Rights Day, which is observed by the international community every year on 10 December, Exxaro recently collaborated with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UNWomen) by signing up for the United Nations Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs). Launched in 2010, the WEPs are a set of principles designed to guide businesses in empowering women in the workplace, marketplace, and community. Since then, more than 2 200 businesses have endorsed the principles globally and 67 corporates have signed up in South Africa.
In accepting the invitation from the UNWomen South Africa Multi-Country Office, Exxaro is demonstrating its commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment.
“For the last 13 years, we have been committed to achieving a diverse and progressive workforce, believing in equal opportunities and skills development for all. Our own internal Diversity and Inclusion Strategy promotes a culture that empowers our people, irrespective of gender, race and background, to successfully contribute to delivering on our vision to ‘Power better lives in Africa and beyond’,” says Exxaro CEO, Mxolisi Mgojo.
The mining industry has experienced a significant increase in female employees over the last two decades, with numbers multiplying five-fold since 2002. Yet women still only represent 12% of the mining force – with 54,154 women employed in the industry in 2018, while the overall mining workforce is 453,543 people strong.
With over 22% of women in their mining workforce, Exxaro is making great strides in ensuring more women are employed in this traditionally male-dominated industry. Women now represent 43% of Exxaro’s young professionals in training, 33% of their full-time engineering and mining bursars at universities, and 35% of the learner pipeline across their group. Their Diversity and Inclusion Strategy indicates that they are dedicated to empowering women in the workforce.
“We recognise and celebrate the partnership with UNWomen – and acknowledge that more work lies ahead. It is through initiatives such as the United Nations WEP that we believe we will advance gender equality within Exxaro even further,” Mgojo concludes.