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Leadership Insights:
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

“You won’t foster innovation, curiosity and collaboration unless you have a more diverse, distributed and connected workforce.”

Tom Palmer

Tom Palmer
President and Chief Executive Officer

Tom Palmer, President and CEO, speaks on issues related to building, and benefitting from, a diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce.

What does having a diverse and inclusive workplace mean to you?

Newmont spends a lot of time thinking about leadership development and the culture we’re trying to create. As CEO, I try to create the culture and develop the leaders that, together, support the continued and sustainable growth of our organization. I’m looking to help create a caring environment that fosters innovation, curiosity and collaboration in our business. And, diversity and inclusion are essential to achieving that goal.

Why are diversity, equity and inclusion such important issues for the mining industry?

You won’t foster innovation, curiosity and collaboration unless you have a more diverse, distributed and connected workforce. Create an inclusive environment that allows people from all sorts of different backgrounds — whether it’s gender, race, ethnic minority, LGBTQI+ — and you will genuinely get behavior where innovation is welcome, curiosity is welcome and people will collaborate together. And that’s necessary to take an organization to its next level of growth and development.

As a leader, how have you addressed gender issues over the course of your career?

I was very fortunate early in my career to be exposed to leadership concepts that led to transformative change in an organization that was driving some good work around inclusion and diversity. We were bringing in a leadership style that was more collaborative, where you sought input from your team, where you were asking, listening and acting. And, as part of that, starting to develop a more diverse workforce. My frustration is that 25, 30 years have passed and we have not made anything like the inroads we should have in global mining.

As a young manager in the coal industry, there were no women, and I saw the dysfunction that comes with an all-white male workplace. Later, as general manager of a new coal mine, I was able to disrupt tradition and set a target of hiring 25 percent women, including the crews operating equipment out in the mine. This required a focused recruitment strategy and recognizing that it would impact productivity, because we were hiring people who had never worked in mining and had to gain experience. It required some courage to say, “we’re going to stick with this strategy because it will create a workplace that is more diverse, inclusive and productive over the long term.”

More recently, I was able to draw on that experience at Ahafo North, a mine we’re building in Ghana. The team there proudly said, “we’re going to bring in 10 percent women.” And I asked,

“Why isn’t it 50/50? That’s what the community is outside the gate.” And that team’s now done a tremendous amount of work to understand how we engage with local communities and the

Chiefs in the local communities around gender equity in our recruitment strategies.

As CEO, I had the opportunity to set that bold target, and to be clear that it was firm. And if we’re not prepared to disrupt and make that investment, then we will go another 25 years and still have a mining industry that is predominantly male.  

As a miner who began his career in Australia, what are your thoughts on the Western Australia parliamentary inquiry into workplace harassment and violence in the mining industry, as well Rio Tinto’s report on these issue in their Australian operations?

The reports coming out of the parliamentary inquiry and Rio Tinto make for difficult reading. The issues are sexism, workplace violence, harassment and bullying based on gender, race, ethnicity and LGBTQI+ status. It goes to the culture within the industry. And it’s certainly leading to reflections and conversations across mining. We know this behavior is not isolated to one company or one industry, one nation or one culture. We also know this is about privilege and power, and it is about the behavior of men with privilege and power in particular.

Does the culture of mining clash with the strategic goals of building a more diverse and inclusive workplace?

You can have the best strategy in the world on paper. Then you have to execute and implement that strategy. And that requires a group of people to create an environment that is inclusive and enables people in a global organization to work together in a safe, equitable and healthy environment. To build an organization where the whole is worth more than the sum of its individual parts, it comes down to having a culture that will support that strategy.

Changing the culture of a company starts with controlling what you can control. Are we clear — within our organization, within every one of our operations, and within every one of our offices — about what behavior is expected to create a safe, equitable and healthy workplace?

By starting within your organization, you’ve then got people who go home at night or the end of their shift, and they begin to behave in a certain way, and we can start to influence the communities around our operations. Then we can start to influence others in the mining space. From there, we build up, through the results driven by that behavior, we can ultimately help drive positive change in our company, in our communities and our industry.

Leadership in Action:
Achieving Gender Parity at Ahafo North

On July 15, 2021, Newmont announced the approval of full funding for the Ahafo North project in Ghana. On completion, the mine will add more than three million ounces of gold production to our portfolio over an initial 13-year life. Once operational, the mine will provide over 550 full-time jobs. Most of the jobs will be filled through local hiring, and a key target for Ahafo North’s workforce planning is to achieve full gender parity when the mine becomes operational. Although a mine in the region would typically have a 5 percent to 10 percent female workforce, Ahafo North is committed to 50 percent.

CEO Tom Palmer observed, “Gender parity at Ahafo North, particularly in the Ghanaian context, is an example of disrupting paradigms and having the courage to do something different.”

To meet this, we will need to reach out to local communities and develop targeted recruitment campaigns that highlight the wide-ranging benefits of having more women in mining. The efforts of our award-winning HR team in Ghana will be assisted by Newmont-sponsored programs such as the New Future for Girls leadership camp, which provide young women with knowledge and skills that prepare them for employment in technical fields like mining.