Women in Metals and Mining

Noreen Doyle

Chair of the board of directors
Newmont Corporation

Noreen Doyle, Chair of the board of directors, Newmont Corporation

Noreen Doyle has served on Newmont's board of directors for 15 years and has led the company's drive to increase diversity. She was chair of the board throughout the company's merger with Goldcorp in 2019 and before her time at Newmont, she was the first vice president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development from 2001 to 2005.

Newmont won the National Association of Corporate Directors' first diversity award in 2018 and is included in Bloomberg's gender-equality index this year for the second year in a row. What primary actions has Newmont taken to tackle gender diversity?

I think the first action Newmont probably took to increase gender diversity was 15 or so years ago when they appointed Veronica (Ronnie) Hagen and me to the board. We were the first two women on the board and then I think we took a big step forward when Gary Goldberg took over as CEO, because he appointed the first couple of women on the executive leadership team.

In terms of gender and nationality diversity, for the past seven or eight years, they have been part of the strategic objectives of the CEO and the executive leadership team and are reviewed regularly by the leadership, development and compensation committee.

What is Newmont doing to cultivate talented women and help them advance their careers?

We have encouraged business resource groups, which includes a women's group within Newmont, and also Newmont women belonging to the global Women in Mining organization. We are very keen on ensuring that high potential talent, particularly high potential women, have senior level sponsors, not only mentors. So that someone is working with them to promote their career development, not just to mentor them in skills that are necessary for advancement.

We have a number of development programmes through our women and allies business resource group, including lunch with leadership. In the last couple of years a number of our board members, both females and other diverse board members, like Kofi Bucknor, who is a Ghanaian, and Julio Quintana, who is a Cuban American, have talked to the business resource groups. So we try to provide role models for employees who are not just white men.

Are there any formal plans to further diversify the workforce?

Yes, there are. Each executive on the executive leadership team and each of the regional senior vice presidents has specific diversity targets in both the short term and the longer term. Again, concentrated on gender diversity and nationality diversity. We're doing some really interesting things in HR, like circulating blind resumes that are not clear whether the person is male or female, so they're judged on their talent and experience. We know everyone has unconscious biases and we have training to combat that, but we're trying to use other methods to ensure people get an even chance.

How do you feel about diversity in the mining industry as a whole?

I don't think it's getting worse. I think it was beginning to get better and I hope it will continue to get better.

About three years ago, I attended the BMO mining conference and was invited to a women in mining breakfast on the sidelines of that meeting, which was at 6am, not an ideal time, and I expected to find a half a dozen women having coffee together and I found 23 mining company CEOs sitting around a table discussing gender diversity.

We are in an industry that has a talent shortage and more and more of our jobs require brains and not brawn. We have several CEOs in the industry, not only at Newmont, but at other companies, who have spoken out on the need to have more women in the industry.

We've focused on also identifying symbols of exclusion. You want women joining the company to feel like they're welcome and when there are workplace signs that say ‘men working' and when the women are given quilted jackets that are a men's small, so the sleeves hang over their hands, that doesn't seem terribly welcoming. We have over the last few years developed women's work clothes and women's health and safety clothes and women's PPE. I think that makes women feel like they're not a fish out of water, like they're part of the team. It is a message you send, if you don't think highly enough of your workers to make sure they have the right clothing and comfortable clothing. Really being attentive to these small signs makes a world of difference.

A couple of years ago we were nominated by the National Association of Corporate Directors in the US, one of nine companies in the large cap group for their first award on diversity. When we were announced as the winners for the large cap, myself and two fellow female directors, at a black tie dinner, went up to receive the award. I got to the microphone and said to an audience of 500: "This is what miners look like today.” The place loved it.

What do you think can be done to improve the gender diversity in the mining industry?

I am a big fan of targets. I spent a lot of my life in the banking industry and it wasn't until a couple of years ago that industry set targets, at least in the UK, for gender diversification.

I'm not a fan of quotas, I'm a fan of targets, because you can set targets at realistic numbers, set different targets for different regions, parts of your business. If you set targets and you set short-term and long-term targets, people do what they're measured on.

The first time I realised it was meaningful was probably a few years into Gary Goldberg's term as CEO. We went down to Australia for a board meeting and while they were driving us around the Boddington mine, there was a lull in the conversation and the GM started talking about his gender targets and what he was doing to meet them. Unprompted. And that was very encouraging. We also published our targets internally and externally. If you publish targets, people will hold you accountable.

What's the single most important thing a company can do to ensure women can progress up the career ladder?

I think the first and most important thing is that the CEO thinks it is an important part of the strategy. You must have a CEO and a board who are committed to diversity. It can't be the job of the HR office, it really has to come from the top. So once you have that commitment, you have a lot of tools you can use.

Newmont has used the Paradigm for Parity tools, which are a five-point action plan with tools to help you promote diversity, you also have access to a community of CEOs and CHROs that meet from time to time to compare what works and what doesn't work.

What advice would you give a woman entering the mining industry today?

The best advice I can give is advice I wish I had been given early in my career: to project confidence. If you've been hired, you're very likely qualified for any assignment you're given and if you practise self-confidence, you will become more confident.

I would say stretch yourself and not only will you become more confident, you'll become more competent. Search for opportunities that will stretch you, don't wait to be asked. I would tell women to be adventurous.

The other thing I think women fall down on is networking. Network inside your company and across your industry and technical field. Men see networking as part of their job, women tend to think that is what you do when your work is done. Networking is part of your work.

What has been your best moment in mining?

I would say 2019 was probably the most exciting and challenging year, not just for me, but for Newmont. We announced our $10 billion acquisition of Goldcorp in January, fended off a hostile takeover in February, closed the acquisition in April, closed the Nevada joint venture in July, integrated the two boards, management and employees by the end of the year, and raised financing. In 2019 I chaired 22 board meetings –it was pretty exciting.

Interview by Jacqueline Holman