Marie Bourgoin is General Manager at our Newman Operations in Australia. This is her story.
“Diversity is having a seat at the table. Inclusion is having a voice at that table.”
Inclusion and diversity is something that is very close to my heart, given the diversity of my own family. My three children are Australian, my husband is Singaporean and I’m a French national (although Australian at heart!). As my family is very multicultural, we love celebrating Harmony Day – a celebration of all cultures coming together, regardless of background, colour, dreams, which God you pray for or who you love.
My family also knows first-hand the challenges of working and bringing up young children, and the importance of teamwork at home. Whether it’s about challenges with work / life integration, childcare, or the lack of a support network, I’m keen to share my experiences so we can look for solutions that help everyone.
I have learned how important it is to be respectful and inclusive of everyone’s diverse heritage. Just like at home, inclusion impacts on how we make people feel at work too. Particularly in the resources industry, which hasn’t always been as open as it is today and, in the past, making a career as a woman came with its challenges.
I have experienced similar situations to other females – being discriminated against for opportunities or not having a voice at the table. Although not career limiting, it affected my self-confidence and, at times, my ability to fully contribute. Although, I’ve also been extremely lucky to have many sponsors along the way – male and female leaders who’ve had faith in me and given me a go when no one else did.
The barriers experienced in my earlier career have motivated me to use my Inclusion and Diversity Council membership to make a difference and shape a positive experience for all future female leaders. This includes doing all I can to assist families in remote communities or those with Fly-In Fly-Out arrangements. I’m also committed to make sure our diversity journey is one that’s inclusive for everyone and has all our people – male and female – at the heart of our agenda.
When I began working at our Newman Operations, I spent the first five weeks in the field across all teams and all levels, talking to people about their experiences. I wanted to fully understand the culture, challenges, opportunities, how I could help, and what they expected from me as their leader. Just talking to my managers would not have given me a deep enough understanding and it was very important to talk to as many of my team as I could, knowing that some of the best suggestions come from our operators and maintainers.
For me, diversity is about tapping into all talent pools available around us, and representing the communities in which we operate. I feel strongly that having a diverse team is beneficial to get a much broader diversity of thought in our team. In turn, this means we make better decisions for everyone.
To all female colleagues, back yourself and have a go, you can have it all! To all male colleagues feeling threatened by BHP’s push for diversity, you are just as valued as any other member of the team. The diversity push is not about discrimination – quite the opposite. It’s simply about supporting all types of people from all walks of life and giving everyone an equal opportunity to make a difference. I hope for equal opportunities for my two sons and daughter too, regardless of the industry they decide to work in.
We can all play a part to encourage better inclusion and diversity at our workplaces. Every company has its own unique challenges and opportunities. The key is to truly understand where the opportunities lie and unlock them with a bias to action. Not stereotyping people into certain roles, being more proactive at building talent pipelines, as well as helping to maintain a focus on respectful behaviour are also critical for a truly inclusive and diverse work environment. Leaders can also listen, seek to understand, ask for feedback, mentor and, in return, engage in a ‘reverse mentor’ relationship.
Diversity is having a seat at the table. Inclusion is having a voice at that table. Let’s encourage everyone to have a voice – the more diverse the thinking, the more we want to hear it!