The inaugural AWRA Conference was held on 14 May 2013 in Melbourne, attracting 200 delegates from across the national resource industry.

Keynote speaker, Anglo American Metallurgical Coal CEO Seamus French assured delegates that increasing the number of women in the workforce is a critical business imperative for resource industry organisations.

With more than 2000 new jobs in its Queensland project pipeline alone, Mr French spoke about the role women play as a source of fresh ideas, innovation and skills for Anglo American.

“Traditionally, finding people for our future projects would mainly focus on the very competitive and limited Queensland underground coal mining pool and this approach just isn’t going to cut it anymore,” Mr French said.

“Diversity gives us the opportunity to grow the resourcing pool rather than fishing it dry and to make this happen we are creating an inclusive culture which embraces all employees, no matter their gender, ethnicity, age or religion.”

Anglo American Metallurgical Coal employs 4500 people in Australia and, under Mr French’s leadership, has improved the representation of women in its total workforce by 32 per cent since 2010. Today, 12 per cent of its mine site employees are women and the target is to grow this to 20 per cent by 2018.

“There is not one quick fix, so our diversity action plan has covered educating our leaders, setting targets for the number of women we recruit, building partnerships with schools and universities and supporting the women we already employ through mentoring and development opportunities,” Mr French said.

The conference also included presentations from Helen Conway, Director of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency; Matt Guthridge, Partner, PwC Consulting and Anna McPhee, Managing Consultant, Futurestep.

Industry case studies were also presented by Caltex Australia, SKM Global and OZ Minerals.

The 2013 AWRA Conference was the first-ever national event dedicated to increasing women’s participation in the resource industry.

The AWRA 2013 conference was funded by the Australian Government through the National Resource Sector Workforce Strategy.