Fiona Vines is Head of our Inclusion & Diversity and Workforce Transition teams. This is her story.
“I want to make the world a better place for women – by removing the barriers that stop them from fully participating in education, the economy and society.”
My partner passed away when I was 31 years old. We had two children aged under four, so it was a tough time. I was fortunate to have a profession that enabled me to provide for my family, work flexibly and have a good life. So many women are not enabled in the same way and I think that is why I am so committed to gender equality. I want to level the playing field so that women can thrive no matter what life throws at them.
As a single parent working full time I was often not able to participate in social events, early/late meetings, international assignments, off-sites or even just having the time to hang around the office to chat informally. Now that my kids have grown up and I can do those things, I realise how much I missed out on – it’s in these settings that important information is shared, opportunities are created and networks form.
That’s why flexible work practices and shared care between men and women is so important. We have made great progress in this at BHP with more than 40 per cent of our people working flexibly. But there is more to do to enable men and women to participate more equally at work and at home. This is good for families and relationships, as well as career progression
A more inclusive workplace is better for everyone – especially from a safety and wellbeing perspective. Our own data shows this. And I have many conversations with men in our teams who say it just feels better having a more diverse team. However, I don’t shy away from the fact that the world of mining was made for men, by men – and there are many things we need to change to tip the balance back to where it should be. This means an unwavering focus on gender balanced hiring, lifting the bar on our expectations of respectful behaviour and stamping out sexual harassment.
Recently I asked a leader at BHP to work on our program to stamp out sexual harassment. He went away and sought out four women he knew had experienced sexual harassment and listened to their stories. His belief is that you can’t solve something you don’t understand.
An inclusive leader is one who is curious, asks questions and listens to learn about the experience of others. Without this base level of understanding, it is not possible to create the conditions for people to be their best.
My advice for leaders is to firstly be clear about why inclusion and diversity matters; to you and to your business strategy. Secondly, inform yourself. Go and talk to people in your business about their experiences of exclusion, get a reverse mentor. Finally, set a bold target and put in place mechanisms to hold yourself and your leaders accountable.
We have to stop assuming this is someone else’s accountability and instead work out our roles in creating a more inclusive world. We have to start listening to people who are different to us. Ignorance is the enemy of inclusion.
I want to make the world a better place for women – by removing the barriers that stop them from fully participating in education, the economy and society.
I am driven by the opportunity to be part of a sustainable change to the very fabric of BHP, and our industry – a change from a homogenous, inflexible culture to one that is inclusive and brings out the best in everyone.