For Edgar Basto, BHP Asset President, Western Australian Iron Ore (WAIO), it’s simple: he believes inclusive and diverse teams are good for business.
My passion for inclusion and diversity started when I was seven years old and living in a small town in Colombia. I discovered my mother couldn’t read, because when she was growing up it was believed women did not need to go to school. My mother didn’t have the opportunity to be a professional or to study something. That marked my life – why is it that some people are discriminated against in that way? I was pleased to help her learn to read and write, and that was the start of my journey to challenge bias.
As a male leader in the resources industry, I feel a sense of responsibility to remove the barriers that prevent women from reaching their full potential and empower my team to do the same. But, change is not easy. It’s about changing mindsets and building on our culture.
And it involves each and every one of us.
We talk about building inclusive and diverse teams at BHP, made up of people who differ in terms of their cultural background, age, religion, sexual orientation, skin colour, physical ability, etc. who bring a diversity of views, thinking styles and experiences. Why? Because it matters and we know that inclusive and diverse teams are good for business.
We made a significant change in safety by thinking about it in a different way. Safety became part of our values and you do not compromise your values.
So when we included our commitment to inclusion and diversity within Our Charter, it was a pivotal moment in our history. This simple statement is another important and visible step to embedding a cultural change across our Company to create a better future for all of us.
You need to be visible and talk about progress on a regular basis.
I think this is the key to moving the dial and generating focus on what leaders can visibly do to make a difference.
The one simple thing that every leader can do today is to make a commitment to not walk past a non-inclusive behaviour, to not ignore an inappropriate comment, and to not accept potential bias in our systems and processes.
There are a million small things that we as leaders do every day that impact our workplace and the lives of our people.
The more we can change people’s views of what we believe others are capable of, we will see more examples of this.
However, changing perceptions of how a miner should look and what a miner should do will take time. We have to challenge years and years of unconscious bias.
It’s something we all have – males and females – we have to become conscious to this bias and then learn how to override it.