Rio Tinto: How managers can drive workplace change
Australia can lead the world in creating a more flexible, inclusive and diverse workforce, but change must start at the top, Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Andrew Harding said.
Speaking at a Women in Leadership lunch hosted by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia, Andrew said all levels of leadership across an organization must be aligned and committed to fostering workplace flexibility. And while systems and processes to achieve change were important, they could only take an organization so far.
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“Where I think the challenge lies is actually getting all the levels of leadership aligned and committed around the change that’s needed,” Andrew said.
This could be achieved by fostering change in three areas of leadership – communication, inclusion and role modeling. For example, communication about inclusion and diversity usually focused on the benefits it brought to a business at a very high level, he said. However this would not drive change for leaders at lower levels, who need to see the benefits that change could bring to them.
“The discussion needs to move from what happens to the organization to what happens to the team,” Andrew said.
“If you are the leader of a high-performing team, you’re going to do well. If you’re the leader of a high-performing team that is diverse, more resilient and has fewer blind spots in its decision-making, you’re going to do well over a longer period of time.
“We need to communicate what the value is to the people who are going to be pushing the agenda.”
In the case of inclusion, leaders needed to focus on building social cohesion. This meant teaching team leaders and team members how to manage their relationships and the way they worked together. To improve team-based processes across its business, Iron Ore has created High Value Initiatives.
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“Our High Value Initiatives are about driving team-based process into the business; in a sense each is a small experiment in inclusiveness,” Andrew said.
Under the program, diverse teams are set up and given a complex, technical problem to solve, which would bring huge value to the business. By working together and finding solutions, the teams had generated millions of dollars in savings.
Iron Ore recently set up a High Value Initiative around workplace flexibility and already it was delivering a fundamental change in thinking. Change driven by leadership occurred 20 years ago with safety where a shift in thinking was experienced at all levels.
“Safety is not the responsibility of a safety officer, safety is the responsibility of the line leader,” Andrew said. “Responsibility for workplace flexibility, diversity and inclusiveness of an organization is not the responsibility of the human resources manager, it’s the responsibility of the leader. Change starts at the top.”
Barrick profit beats expectations as copper, gold prices up
Barrick Gold has reported a 78% jump in first-quarter profit, beating analyst expectations thanks to rising gold and copper prices, and said it was on track to meet annual forecasts.
Production in the second half is expected to be higher than the first, the gold miner said, thanks in part to the ramp-up of underground mining at the Bulyanhulu mine in Tanzania and higher expected grades at Lumwana in Zambia, reports Reuters
Barrick’s first-quarter gold production fell to 1.10 million from 1.25 million ounces due partly to lower grades at its Pueblo Viejo mine in Dominican Republic.
Adjusted profit surged 78% to $507mn in the quarter ended March 31, from $285mn a year earlier, and Barrick announced a 9 cent per share quarterly dividend.
Stronger prices helped boost Barrick’s revenue from its copper mines in Chile, Saudi Arabia and Zambia by 31% from the fourth quarter. Overall earnings per share were $0.29, ahead of analysts’ estimate of $0.27.
“We expect a positive stock reaction to the earnings beat and strong cash flow,” said Credit Suisse analysts.
Potential for South Africa merger
Barrick CEO Mark Bristow, who has championed mergers across the gold industry, said he backed the idea of South Africa-listed miners Goldfields and AngloGold Ashanti combining.
Speculation has been swirling around the two companies and Sibanye-Stillwater, whose CEO Neal Froneman floated the idea of a three-way merger.
“I’m a South African, and this country has such a great mining history and it would be great to see a real gold business come out of the many failed discussions that we’ve seen,” said Bristow.
Goldfields declined to comment. In a statement, AngloGold Ashanti said it was focused on delivering on its growth plan to unlock value from its portfolio of gold assets.
Bristow also said he had met with the Democratic Republic of Congo’s new mines minister and other officials and was continuing to work on getting $900mn belonging to its Kibali mine joint venture out of the country.
“We have a solution, it just needs to be sanctioned by the appropriate authorities which haven’t been around for a while,” he said, referring to a recent government overhaul by President Felix Tshisekedi.