According to The Australian Financial Review, BHP Billiton has adopted one of the most ambitious gender targets of any large company by pledging to make half its workforce women in just nine years, with chief executive Andrew Mackenzie saying diversity will improve performance at the resources giant.
At BHP's annual meeting in London on Thursday Mr Mackenzie will announce an "aspirational goal" for gender balance by 2025 at the Melbourne-based mining and energy group where women currently make up 17 per cent of the global workforce.
Although Mr Mackenzie acknowledged in a note to staff that the "challenging" target is not binding and requires "significant change", he described the plans as a "huge leap" for the 130-year-old company.
BHP's target covers its entire workforce including the board with senior managers now given a specific performance goal of lifting female representation by 3 per cent each year. It is not just an ambitious goal for a large company operating in the male-dominated resources industry but represents a lofty ambition for any global corporation.
The Male Champions of Change group comprising of 30 senior executives including ANZ chief executive Shayne Elliott, Qantas boss Alan Joyce, CBA boss Ian Narev and Telstra chief Andy Penn have committed to a "significant and sustainable increase in the representation of women in leadership".
The Australian Council of Superannuation Investors has adopted a target for women to comprise 30 per cent of all ASX200 boards by the end of 2017.
The Australian government's Workplace Gender Equality Agency found that in 2014-15 only 16 per cent of employees in the mining industry were women.
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