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Simon Trott

Chief Executive - Iron Ore


I’ve been asked why CEOs need to strive for gender balance in the workplace. For me it’s simple. Gender equity benefits everyone. When I reflect on some of the most interesting and exciting teams I have been privileged to be part of, they have been diverse in both nature and thought.
It doesn’t make sense for us to live in a world where so much of our potential is untapped. I recognise that there are both systemic and interpersonal barriers that hold women back and I want to do my part to see that change - leadership matters.
We have increased the number of women in senior positions at Rio Tinto from 19% to 26% in the last five years. This is a good start, but we need to do more.
To meet our year-on-year gender improvement target of 2% we need to ensure we are doing everything we can to create an environment where women can be themselves and thrive.
To make sure our workforce and leaders of tomorrow reflect the diversity of our community, we’re focussed on entry pathways including vacation students, graduates, trainees and apprentices. It’s pleasing to see these entry pathways represented by more than 50 per cent of women.
We’re recruiting women from a variety of different, but compatible, backgrounds into our operations – then setting them up to succeed through a structured transition program. We had more than 1500 applicants for our first intake, which shows the number of talented women who want to be part of challenging those stereotypes and bringing their skills and experience to our industry.
But it’s not enough to set targets. As leaders, I think it’s our responsibility to help articulate and connect people with a better future. And that future will see more women in mining, more women in senior leadership roles, and more men actively taking part in the balance of life outside of work.
When we break down the traditional thinking about gender roles at work and in society, we allow people greater expression of choice in what they do. We need more women in our business at all levels and we need to support men to spend more time with their families by taking parental and carers’ leave, and by working flexibly.
And we are changing our systems to support this. We now have a global approach to flexible work, offering choice when it comes to where and when we work, compressed working weeks at our residential sites, FIFO lifestyle options, part-time and job share arrangements, and gender-neutral parental leave policy.
I hope that with these changes, we will see more of our men participate more fully in primary carers’ leave, without feeling like they are in a minority. And of course, when men step firmly into this space it supports women to engage fully in their professional lives.
When I’m asked about how we should drive change towards gender balance from the top-down, I think it’s important as leaders to acknowledge that we don’t have all the answers. But one uncomfortable truth we need to sit with is that the power imbalance exists as long as we don’t have gender equity.
Our thinking and our actions continue to be shaped by the recommendations from our Everyday Respect Taskforce, which we commissioned in March 2021 to help us understand the impact of disrespect in all its forms in our workplace.
We have incredible people working across our business and the mining sector; we need to listen deeply, ensuring their voices are heard. A critical part of the process is listening to the lived experiences of women, so we can build a more inclusive workplace and foster a culture of change.
And bigger than us, to make meaningful and sustained change, we need to do it together as an industry and as a society.
We know we can use our position within the communities in which we operate to contribute to broader societal change. This includes improving childcare, vacation care and flexible work options, including for site-based roles which has helped many women get back into the workforce.
If we all use our voices and the resources we have at hand, together we can shift the dial and create a brighter future for our people and the community.



CEO Conversation.


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