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Image of Newmont CEO Tom Palmer

Tom Palmer

After almost 35 years in the mining industry, Newmont CEO Tom Palmer says he has not seen much change in the mining industry in terms of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Participating in a panel on the issue at the Investing in African Mining Indaba being held in Cape Town this week, the gold miner boss said he “sat here frustrated in 2023 that we haven’t made the changes we should have made over that period of time”.

“I’m part of that problem.

“People whose behaviour needs to change are those with power and privilege and they look a lot like me in our industry – middle-aged white men.

“When we think about this problem and we think about creating change, we need to have a very honest and robust understanding of the culture within our industry, within each of our organisations. It is very easy to gloss over the top and say we don’t have a problem here,” noted Palmer.

“You need to actually scratch the surface and genuinely listen to understand the culture within your organisation and, I’m sorry to say, that across our 12 managed operations in eight countries around the world, we on a regular basis have cases and incidences of sexual violence, sexual harassment and racism.”

Palmer said it was necessary to understand why this happening, what behaviour had to change, and what systems had to be put in place to improve the situation.

“That is really, really hard work. Complex work. And if you raced through it too quickly, thinking you have the answers, you won’t get a change in behaviour.

“You need to take the time to sit down and talk to people in the minority. To understand their stories and then determine a course of action.

“That is what we are doing in our organisation.”

Palmer it was about understanding those stories and putting in place “meaningful, lasting action, so that long after we have left our roles, and the next generation and the generation after that have come through as leaders in our organisation, we would have fundamentally changed the culture in our company and in our industry”.

He added that line leaders had to take special responsibility to create an inclusive workplace, as they typically were the ones with power and privilege.

“Line leaders have to change their behaviour, and only when that happens do you get sustainable change.”