Think beyond mining to find fresh ideas

Mining farm analysts discussing benefit of new hardware

Bringing fresh talent from other industries into your company can boost productivity and plug widening skill gaps.

As the mining industry hurtles towards a new digital era, executives will need to chart their companies through one of the most significant skill shortages in history, brought about by digitisation and automation. 

One way forward is to diversify your workforce.

Deloitte’s Tracking the Trends 2020 research shows that diverse and inclusive workplaces are six times more likely to be innovative and agile and twice as good at meeting or exceeding financial targets. 

Hiring outsiders can reduce overall company risk by 30 per cent thanks to their ability to spot non-traditional liabilities better than less diverse companies.

Graph showing that diverse companies are six times more innovative and twice as good at exceeding financial targets.
Deloitte’s Tracking the Trends 2020

So, how can hiring from outside regular talent pools help your company?

First, newcomers offer fresh perspectives and mindsets, which could be vital for moving your company forward. 

Second, hiring from sectors like IT can help close a skill gap that already looms large in many mining houses. This could allow executives to then focus on other pressing issues, such as dealing with the impact of job losses caused by automation – which Deloitte estimates will wipe out nearly 70 per cent of all mine-site roles – community relations, the environment, and governance. 

“If you want real change,” says Cygnet’s Transformation Consultant Tom Aldridge. “You need to benchmark against other industries. If you don’t, then you can only be as good as your industry.

“To take the lead, you have to do something different from everyone else and make change. Bringing someone in from a new industry can be that game-changer.”

Tom highlighted how the decision by British Airways to hire a former Avis director to lead customer service improvements was key to it being coined Britain’s most customer-friendly airline for almost 20 years.

Swann Group founder John Murray agrees 

“You need to bring people in, where you can, where it’s practical – whether it’s at board level or lower – you need to bring in other perspectives, other experiences that can contribute to the workplace and to the board.

“Take Swann Group, for example. We’re not all HR people. We’re a diverse lot who have all come from different places, and we thrive because of it.” 

And it doesn’t stop there. Hiring talent from unfamiliar places opens a portal to people who had potentially never considered a career in mining. 

As ICMM CEO Tom Butler warned, “We are competing with the likes of Silicon Valley companies, and in order for a mining company to attract those kinds of people we have to think about what our proposition is.

“Younger people these days are more concerned about what the purpose of their life is and what the purpose of the company they are working for is. We need to be articulating our purpose and the impact we have on society and providing materials for a modern way of life in a much better way than we are doing at the moment.”

If miners want to weather future storms successfully, they will need fresh ideas. 

What better place to start looking than outside our industry?

Adrian Zorzut, Journalist