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Championing empathy and inclusion - meet Carolina García from Chile

Carolina has more than 20 years of experience in mining and her work history is as multifaceted as she is. She has been recognized as one of the 100 most inspiring women in mining during 2021, through the Women in Mining UK nomination, due to her great work spreading the importance of generating workspaces that are more inclusive for people with disabilities.

Caroline is a civil engineer that has worked in different industries throughout her career, starting in the technology field and later working as a mining consultant, traveling around Chile and the world until her accident in 2005, resulting in tetraplegia. Later, and after facing the difficulties of finding a job as a woman with a disability, Carolina reinvented herself, discovering and certifying her skills as a coach in 2014. “I decided to go from being a victim of the situation to being the protagonist of my own story. The engineering suit no longer served me, I had to reinvent myself and then I became a coach, which allowed me to see life in a different way and also change my story”.

Carolina started a coaching and organizational management consultancy and developed a project; a platform where people with disabilities can register to seek better job opportunities. This initiative became the “Inclusive Community Foundation”, of which Carolina is the spokesperson and founder. “It is important to work on the labels and aim at intersectionality because we are not only women, and we are not only people with disabilities: we are a whole and we have to work to build a culture that distinguishes that”, she says.

Her path in Pampa Norte

Carolina joined BHP in 2019 working as a Specialist Technical Training at the Integrated Operations Control of Spence. Since 2021, she has been leading the diversity and inclusion project in Pampa Norte, which aims to increase the number of people with disabilities in the company, stressing infrastructure matters and how to adapt processes to be more inclusive. "I feel very excited to have returned to the mining industry—something I would have never imagined to have done, due to my disability. I feel included in my teams, and I believe we are making big changes, as well as facing big challenges ahead. This project excites and entertains me".

Carolina highlighted the importance of having colleagues and teams willing to generate these changes with respect, promoting inclusion. “Today at BHP we are more than 125 people with disabilities. There are 26 people with disabilities at Spence and 14 at Cerro Colorado, but no one is in a wheelchair, so they are invisible disabilities. So my invitation is how we activate empathy”.

In addition to her role as Specialist Technical Training, Carolina is currently president of the International Coaching Federation (ICF), chapter of Chile, work through which she has carried out various talks and activities with the aim of raising awareness about people with disabilities, what their challenges are and how we can generate more empathy in work and personal spaces.

Carolina is happy with her work and personal development, which today is directly related to the company's values ​​in terms of inclusion and diversity. Pampa Norte's goal for 2027 is to go from 1.8% to 3% of people with disabilities as part of the workforce. "We have great projects, but what stands out the most is the commitment and conviction to work, and aligned with what our purpose says, to gather people and resources to build a better world.”