The aluminium industry includes many people genuinely passionate about the metal and its applications, and the potential for it to contribute to positive change at a society level. This creates a sense of energy and alignment with ASI’s work, and we have seen strong uptake of the ASI Certification Program and growth in ASI membership year on year.
However, like most metal and mining industries, the aluminium industry still tends to be male-dominated. We are seeing more female leaders, but these are still the exception rather than the norm. It can take a long time for a pipeline to take new entrants to the industry into leadership roles, particularly if they are coming in at a kind of graduate level. So the work to create our future women leaders needs to already be happening.
At the same time, there seems to be an increasing participation of women in environmental, sustainability and human rights roles in member and stakeholder organisations, which fortunately brings them into ASI’s orbit. At ASI, we are fortunate to have strong representation of women among the ASI Board (3/8), ASI Standards Committee (10/24) and Secretariat (9/12) as indicated in the infographic below.
Women face a range of barriers in many workplaces, and it can take a long time for cultures to change. Issues can include gender stereotypes that discourage entry to certain industries, pay gaps, lack of female leaders and mentors, lack of flexible work practices and childcare options (for men and women) and, unfortunately, still blatant sexism at times. What is the most critical challenge at a given time and place can vary, and sometimes historical disadvantage or discrimination cannot be easily undone later in terms of its impact. It’s critical that organisations think carefully about how they can nurture genuinely inclusive workplace cultures.
There are many studies that show that gender (and other diversity) strongly correlates with improved company performance. A competitive advantage is certainly one way to look at it. But it’s even more important that the aluminium industry reflects society at large, in order to be informed and enriched by a broader vision of the future.
ASI’s mission is about creating change, and gender issues are addressed in our Standards, which have been further expanded in our current Standards Revision process and is currently open for stakeholder consultation. We encourage everyone interested in gender – and indeed all other sustainability issues – to contribute to our Standards Revision consultation. Find out more at: https://aluminium-stewardship.org/asi-standards-revision/
As is often the case, much has been accomplished, but much is still to do to address gender equity and wider gender issues in the aluminium sector. We believe that the ASI Standards can support progress in the right direction. With that, a very Happy International Women’s Day to all the amazing women in ASI, the aluminium value chain, and among our stakeholders!