Robyn Dittrich is Vice President of our Procurement team in Singapore. This is her story.
“All forms of diversity are important and one kind is not more important than another.”
Having worked in male dominated industries for more than 25 years, I’ve experienced many firsts and broken a few barriers throughout my career. I was the first woman to be hired on a manufacturing site of 140 men, the first (and often) only woman on many teams spanning oil and gas, chemicals, manufacturing, and technology roles, as well as the first to start a Women’s, Parents, or LGBT network at many of the places I’ve worked.
I know what it feels like to be excluded, targeted, or punished for speaking up in teams that had different norms. I’ve experienced invisible barriers, decisions made for me based on gender stereotypes, sexual harassment, exclusion from key opportunities to connect with senior leaders (mostly done via sport or drinking), lack of access to sponsors and mentors because male leaders ‘don’t want people to get the wrong idea’ and so on. However, I wanted to leave a legacy where workplaces were better because I had made a difference, and it’s important to share these experiences in a way that has a positive impact.
Workplaces haven’t always been great for men either. Both men and women carry the responsibility of careers and the contribution their work brings to their families. However, unlike women, many men also feel significant pressure to conform to outdated masculine stereotypes, where talking openly about challenges or vulnerability is difficult. For some men, taking up flex work, parental leave, or moving to part time hours still carries some societal stigma.
Now, as a leader working in a global, complex, and culturally diverse environment at BHP, I’m committed to creating a workplace culture where people can come to work as their authentic selves and be productive – where inclusive and diverse thinking is part of every routine.
Leaders must be able to put themselves in the shoes of their teams and others to truly understand the felt experience so those learnings can be included in decision making. Having a growth mindset is important too, as well as adapting quickly to team changes and other business disruptions. We should continuously look out for non-traditional capabilities, skills and experiences from all kinds of people across BHP and beyond, to drive diversity in the right direction.
I’d love to see more mentoring and sponsorship to grow talent in our workplaces. As well as take more risks on people, and support diverse talent to be successful so that we have more productivity, strong leaders, improved business outcomes and more sustainable industry solutions.
All forms of diversity are important and one kind is not more important than another. Inclusion is about making space for all kinds of people to be heard, encouraging their contributions – regardless of gender, culture, sexual orientation or ethnicity. There are talented people with so much to offer at BHP and we are stronger and more competitive when we harness their diversity of thinking and productivity.
By working together to change the culture and lived experience for both men and women, we have the opportunity help all employees feel more empowered and effective at work. We have to reject the outdated societal views where “we don’t like women who act like men and men who act like women”. Everyone is unique, valued and has a voice.