Perceptions In the Canadian Mining Industry


Jocelyn Peltier-Huntley, University of Saskatchewan

The Canadian mining industry has recently embarked on a journey to welcome diversity and inclusivity into its organizations.  An inclusive culture change is required to welcome greater gender diversity into the historically under-representation of women in the Canadian mining industry. Women currently fill only 16% of jobs even though the industry is currently facing a projected labour shortage in critical roles (Mining Industry Human Resources, 2018).  During this presentation the results will be discussed from a national study which was undertaken to understand how Canadian mining companies are working to close the gender gap in the industry. This transformative mixed-methods study was completed in two phases by examining signs of culture change from both the top down and the bottom up. In the first phase of the study, qualitative, rhetorical criticism methodology was used to analyze over 75 public documents from ten major companies involved in Canadian mining. These ten companies collectively represent approximately half of the Canadian mining sector employees. Rhetorical criticism is a qualitative method which takes a deep look at the messaging to examine the motivations and credibility of the speaker, consider the needs of the audience, and balance those with the logic of the message. Findings from the top down analysis indicate that individual mining companies are at different positions on their journey to create an industry that is ultimately reflective of the communities in which they operate. In some instances, the diversity initiatives advanced by individual companies are utilizing SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely) gender equity targets while other organizations appear to be in a state of denial on the need for gender equity.  The industry still has a long way to go to achieve the ultimate goal of gender equity; however, early signs of culture change are evident through this review of top down messaging coming from these ten mining companies. The bottom up approach used in the second phase involved an anonymous online survey with current and former workers in the Canadian mining industry. The second phase of the study was informed by the first phase outcomes. The intent of the survey was to capture perceptions and experiences of participants. Professional and industry associations aided with mobilizing the survey to 944 respondents across the country in a range of organizations, professions, role levels, age ranges, and both genders. 540 completed survey responses were taken forward for further analysis of the nearly 80 questions. Statistical methods were used to analyze differences and similarities between the responses of men (n = 328) and women (n = 220), and current (n = 459) and former (n = 81) mining workers. An example of a quantitative question included the perceived importance of gender diversity and inclusion to the respondents, their supervisor, and senior management within their company. Rhetorical analysis methods were again used to analyze open ended survey questions, such as that describing incidents of harassment and discrimination within the mining industry.  The results from this study will include recommendations that individuals and leaders within the industry can take in order to drive forward diversity and inclusion initiatives within their organizations. Suggestions will include:  • Increasing awareness by updating the narrative on diversity and inclusion,  • Using accountability to empower individuals to practice inclusive behaviours, and • Leveraging health and safety culture and systems to advance gender equity. This presentation is intended to precede the Diversity and Inclusion presentation by Jamile Cruz, Laura Methot, and Jocelyn Peltier-Huntley, which will showcase practical ways to put the recommendations into action. Citations:  Black, E. (1970). The Second Persona. The Quarterly Journal of Speech, LVI(2), 109 - 119.  Brummett, B. (2011). Rhetoric in popular culture (Third Edition ed.). Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications Ltd. Foss, S. K. (2004). Rhetorical criticism: Exploration & practice (Third Edition ed.). Longrove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc. Mining Industry Human Resources. (2018). Canadian Mining Labour Market Outlook 2019. Retrieved from