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Indigenous women who have graduated from the Indigenous Development Program are changing the cultural and employment landscape of BHP.

“These future leaders are breaking stereotypes around leadership in the mining industry; they’re becoming positive role models and workplace mentors for other Indigenous women new to mining; and they are shifting mindsets around possible career paths and redefining Indigenous success,” said BHP Indigenous Employment Manager Anthony Galante.

“Our focus on creating employment, development and leadership pathways for Indigenous women is a key plank to building a more diverse and inclusive workplace,” explained Anthony.

Sarah Walley, Jane Binsiar, Lyndal Evans, Taleasha Morrice, Jessica Williams and Melanie Tullock-Dhu, pictured, are the latest female graduates from the IDP, and they’ve cherished their time in the program.

“Great things never come from comfort zones,” said Sarah Walley, who works in BHP Mine Control, in Perth.

“The program has given us leadership capabilities and the confidence to take action in driving our career in what direction we aspire to.  I am a firm believer that proximity is power. Having the opportunity to grow together is something I will cherish forever.  If I could give one thing to this group of ladies - it would be to see themselves through my eyes. Let’s go make a legacy that will leave a lasting impact!”

Through the 2020 Reconciliation Action Plan, BHP has been working to increase Indigenous representation and create a more inclusive workplace, rolling out an Indigenous Development Program across Australia.

The program has deliberately targeted female Indigenous employees in order address their gross under-representation in leadership roles and create success stories to encourage Indigenous women to strive for leadership opportunities, and attract more Indigenous women to the mining industry.

BHP now directly employs 403 Indigenous women, comprising 29 per cent of BHP’s Indigenous workforce, with another 131 Indigenous women in labour hire roles.

“While this is positive in terms of our RAP and the socio-economic benefits that flow from these high levels of participation, there is a significant lack of Indigenous women in leadership roles,” said Anthony.

“Coupled with our longer term aspiration to achieve eight per cent Indigenous participation by 2025, and achieve gender balance within that cohort, BHP has also established at target of three per cent Indigenous leadership representation by 2028. Our Indigenous leadership parity target seeks to achieve Indigenous leadership representation equivalent to the proportion of Indigenous people in the Australian population.”

In 2019, BHP’s Indigenous Leadership Program was introduced following feedback from line leaders for a program to support existing Indigenous leaders to move to the next level.

“The program has built the confidence and motivation of Indigenous employees to take on future leadership roles; provides greater access to role specific training through development planning; develops Indigenous employees’ verbal and written communication skills; provides career skills; and develop strategies to deal with the unique challenges experienced as Indigenous Australians through strengthened cultural and self-knowledge,” explained Anthony.

“We’re enabling Indigenous men and women to develop their abilities to become roles models for other Indigenous employees within the business and build more visible Indigenous leadership representation.

“It’s great to see our Indigenous team members and future leaders establish a network across Australia and take on leadership roles outside of BHP, within their families and communities,” finished Anthony.

BHP’s Indigenous Development Program and focus on female leaders has been nominated for an award at the Chamber of Minerals and Energy Western Australia ‘Women in Resources Awards 2020’ for its success in increasing the representation of female Indigenous leaders within BHP.

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