Exxaro continues the journey towards gender empowerment

Exxaro was recently named the winner in the Top Gender-Empowered Organisation: Resources category at the Standard Bank Top Women of the Year Awards. The occasion celebrates South African public and private sector organisations that prioritise gender empowerment within their business, and have a significant and growing number of women succeeding at all levels within the company.


Our first-ever female Engineering Manager, Bontle Mtshengu, who leads a team of over 200 at Leeuwpan Coal Mine, accepted the award at the ceremony at Emperors Palace, Johannesburg o‌n 15 August 2019.


The award is representative of our continued effort to prioritise and empower female employees with opportunities to enable their growth and development, both within the organisation and society. Here’s how we do it.


As a proudly South African company, we’re in a favourable position as we understand the socio-economic dynamics within the country. As a result, we developed a transfo‌rmation strategy that seeks to align with and support the National Development Plan by creating a diverse and inclusive workforce.


To achieve a more equitable gender balance and develop these relevant initiatives, we first needed to understand the main barriers for women in mining. What we learnt was that women are subjected to social, physiological, structural and employment obstructions.


Over the last few years, however, we have seen companies in the industry actively working towards changing the work environment to support women in the most practical ways possible.


In light of the challenges faced by women, our current strategy focuses o‌n different methodologies to upskill and retain Historically Disadvantaged South Africans (HDSA) and Employment Equity (EE) candidates with a focus o‌n females. Some initiatives that are underway are as follows:


  • Fast-tracking programmes and Executive mentorship programmes.
  • Focus o‌n gender mainstreaming awareness and sexual harassment at all levels of the organisation.
  • Encourage and mentor young women and girls in our communities to plan their careers and build skills to become independent and empowered.


The redesign of our personal protective equipment (PPE) is another initiative undertaken by Exxaro’s Women in Mining committees to attract more women to mining and empower those who work in the male-dominated industry. Furthermore, to protect the women who work underground, subterranean toilets are reserved for women’s exclusive use, secured with locks that o‌nly female employees have the access codes. There is also a project underway called “women in distress butto‌n” where lamps used by female miners will be upgraded to include panic butto‌ns.


Through the efforts of more and more companies in building an environment in which all employees are comfortable and proud to work, the number of women in the mining industry has increased significantly since 2004. As we celebrate their growing influence, we must also recognise women’s further aspirations for growth and education. Our 2018 records show that 22% of Exxaro’s workforce are females. We aim to grow this talent pipeline through our bursary and Professionals-in-Training programmes, being a leader in the diversity and inclusion of gender empowerment as part of our brand.


The impact of women within our industry reflects a synergy of growth, development and leadership. Exxaro supports the skills development and growth of women in mining. Since the 2018 Integrated Report, records show that 40% of Exxaro’s young Professionals-In-Training are women, while 36% of our bursars are female.


What’s more, our Enterprise and Supplier Development (ESD) programme seeks to lead economic transfo‌rmation by supporting black-owned, black-women-owned and black-youth-owned small businesses that will create jobs in host communities, transfo‌rm our supply chain and support our organisation’s growth aspirations.


Exxaro’s primary objective is to power better lives in Africa and beyond. We are committed to creating a culture that celebrates gender diversity and o‌ne that encourages collaboration if we’re to best achieve our vision.