The event was the first in a national series which will hit the road later this month in Sydney (November 29) and Melbourne (December 1) as the industry seeks an efficient, skilled, and suitably sized workforce for the future.
Let’s Talk Diversity was an amazing opportunity for the industry to discuss these challenges and have some fun along the way under a new dynamic event format based on the popular TV show Shark Tank.
Under the new format, speakers from a range of interesting backgrounds pitched their ideas and perspectives on attracting Gen Z to a panel of ‘Sharks’ who challenged their thinking.
The consensus on the night was that companies who perform strongly in the community, environment, and diversity spaces will attract much of the next generation of workers and incentivise them to stay for the long term.
This is a topic that is front of mind for many in the industry, because Gen Z, typically defined as those born between 1995 and 2012, are entering the workforce in droves.
In fact, it’s estimated that by 2030, 75 per cent of the workforce will comprise of this cohort. Capturing the hearts and minds of these younger workers is vital for the gold industry to thrive and attract the best talent.
GIG Chair and Gold Fields Australia Vice President: Legal & Corporate Affairs Kelly Carter echoed this sentiment and opened the night by touching on the skills shortage affecting industries nationwide.
“I’m sure you are all aware of the significant current challenges around access to labour and the importance of looking toward our workforce of the future.
“While these challenges are not unique to the gold industry, there is an opportunity for us to find our collective voice and position ourselves as an industry of choice among younger generations,” said Ms Carter.
At this point, the crowd was eager to hear from the exciting line-up of speakers, which kicked off with Bellevue Gold Senior Mining Engineer Surja Pandit pitching his novel idea for a 5-part Documentary Series; That’s Gold: How mining companies are changing with the times.
Mr Pandit said the mining industry in general had a public relations problem, and the solution to changing this perception and capturing the hearts of Gen Z was to utilise one of the most powerful modern-day platforms known to this generation – that of social media and technology.
“We’ve lost Gen Z’s interest before they’ve even stepped foot in the industry. To understand them and connect with them we must start speaking their languages and meeting them on their platforms,” said Mr Pandit.
Before committing to this concept Evolution Mining Non-Executive Director Andrea Hall wanted to know how we prevent it from being a cheesy corporate video and wanted to know what x factor was needed to make this documentary successful.
The second Pitcher to take the stage and face the Sharks was St Barbara Legal Counsel Kate Fitzsimmons, who said the key to attracting Gen Z into gold mining was unlocking their talent and enthusiasm for decarbonisation and technology.
“To attract the next wave of skilled workers, the industry needs to rethink its marketing and PR strategy and promote itself on Gen Z search engine platforms like TikTok, a drink bottle at a careers fair isn’t enough,” said Ms Fitzsimmons.
Mining News.Net Editor and Shark Kristie Batten agreed with this concept and wanted to know how the industry could go about making the message authentic not cheesy marketing even though it absolutely is marketing.
The final Pitcher for the night was Gold Fields General Manager of Gruyere Karl Stokes, who explored Gen Z’s desire for a stable but fluid work environment with internal career progression opportunities.
After giving the Sharks matching Hawaiian shirts, Mr Stokes said rather than treating workers the same and serving them all a generic industry message, companies should appeal to Gen Z based on their specific career goals and individual skillsets.
“Listening to the younger generation employees across the Gruyere site he recognised the apparent need to focus on increasing the diversity of career path solutions available and believed one size doesn’t fit all,” concluded Mr Stokes.
Bellevue Gold Chief Executive Officer Darren Stralow was encouraged by this concept and wanted to know how it would be pitched up the tree and successfully acquire executive level endorsement.
After a vigorous and well-presented discussion, the crowd was polled on which presentation resonated with them the most, with the winner being Surja Pandit and his Netflix 5-part docuseries.