The world’s largest miner, BHP Billiton, is determined to bridge the gender gap in the mining industry.
On Thursday, the company announced a new initiative to diversify an industry that has historically been male-dominated, Bloomberg reports. If all goes according to plan, half of BHP’s workforce will be made up of women by 2025.
To reach this goal, BHP has to employ another 21,000 women by the middle of the next decade, including its own staff and contractors, according to Bloomberg. Currently, women account for only 18% of BHP’s 65,000 employees (which includes contractors) and 18% of BHP’s direct workforce, which is made up of 27,000 people.
As the company plans to diversify its workforce, it encourages contractors to do the same, according to Bloomberg.
“Without new initiatives it would take us 30 years just to get to 30% female representation,” BHP’s chief executive officer Andrew Mackenzie said, according to Bloomberg. “More must, and will, be done. And our 2025 aspirational goal is to achieve gender balance at all levels of the organization over the next decade.”
BHP will feature “counter-stereotypical images to attract and retain diverse talent,” such as women miners and females, Bloomberg reports. BHP also plans to combat bias in its policies and processes, and offer more flexible work options for women.
BHP’s mission to diversify its workforce will help more than just its image: Mining companies with women on their boards outperformed all-male boards by 49% in 2014, according to Bloomberg. And in the same year, all-male boards also had a 92% more negative rating on earnings per share.
Men still hold the majority of executive positions in resources companies. And although female presence is growing, these types of companies are still lagging: As of 2014, female directors only accounted for 10.9% of miners’ boards. Comparatively, women on boards in consumer goods and services accounted for more than 15%, according to Bloomberg.