Last week Covergalls celebrated our founder and CEO, Alicia Woods, being nominated into Women in Mining (WIM) UK’s biennial “100 Global Inspirational Women in Mining” publication.
The publication is dedicated to highlighting incredible stories of women who champion equity and fairness in the mining industry and the ways they forged their careers.
The nomination felt incredible, and somewhat unreal, to Alicia.
“I think sometimes you kind of feel like you're on a bit of an island,” she said, when asked how she felt being named in WIM100. “But to be recognized around the world about your work and to hear that the impact is extremely important - it definitely helps to keep the fire lit and helps to build momentum to keep moving forward and pushing those boundaries.”
As an entrepreneur this fire is key, especially since Alicia has been able to do what many women today struggle with: breaking into a notoriously competitive and male-dominated industry.
Reflecting on 20 years in the mining industry
Alicia had always envisioned herself being in the mining industry growing up in Sudbury, Ontario. It was the family trade. Her grandfather, father and uncles all had worked in the mining industry and in 1979 launched their own equipment company, Marcotte Mining.
“My father passed away when I was 13 years old. That's when I had to rethink my career and what it would look like,” said Alicia.
While taking evening courses in early childhood education she found herself helping out back at the company her family had started. At first it was just with administration work but not before long it became her full time job.
Today Alicia is the sole owner, president, and CEO of Covergalls Inc., which continues to grow under her leadership.
“One of the areas of focus for us is growing the CG aligned consulting division, which we just launched in the fall. We really hope to engage with companies in the mining industry, to help them tackle strategies and initiatives around diversity and inclusion and support them in working towards achieving the UN sustainable goals,” said Alicia.
Her appearance as one of 100 Global Inspirational Women in Mining is a reflection of her hard work, says Theresa Nyabeze, who nominated her for the recognition.
“Alicia, to me at least, is somebody I have just seen grow over the years. I admire how she is willing to take risks in terms of treading new territory,” said Theresa.
Alongside Alicia’s nomination were six other amazing Canadian women we should also celebrate and mention:
Recognizing diverse boards help create positive changes
Concepts like the importance of diversity and inclusion are not new. There is a growing demand and evidence that companies need to come up with strategies to improve workplace diversity that reflect our increasingly interconnected and demographically diverse world.
What is new is that more and more we are seeing evidence of why supporting gender diversity and recognition can make organizations stronger.
“If you look at the work that WIM UK is doing with this recognition, I think that it’s giving a visual representation to people that are in the industry. Representation does matter and you can, you know... be what you don't see,” said Alicia.
Back in 2012, WIM (UK) commissioned a three stage study with PWC in London to cover in their 2013 WIM100 publication. The study was to analyze trends and performance of women on boards and in senior executive positions in the global mining industry and to see what benefits having higher female representation in those positions could have on corporate performance.
No surprise: the mining industry had fewer women on its boards and in its senior executive positions than any other major global industry, and by a considerable margin. What was interesting, though, was that the organizations who did have women on boards significantly outperformed those without them in terms of recorded profits, resource-to–reserve definitions and sustainability, among other metrics.
This evidence is encouraging, especially in the face of the current gender disparities women in science, technology, engineering, and math careers still existing now.
Yet the impact of these findings can be taken a step further.
“Having visible role models is critical if we are going to attract and retain more women to help solve the challenges of global development and the responsible supply of resources for future generations.”
Women in Mining (WIM) UK’s biennial “100 Global Inspirational Women in Mining” publication.
Theresa, who is a professional mining engineer working underground as a frontline supervisor, has experienced this point personally.
She and Alicia first met when they were in high school, but reconnected later on when they both realized they were in the same field, trying to navigate conferences and build their networks. For Theresa, it was reassuring to know that she had someone who shared her vision of working to create a diversified industry. Alicia, likewise.
“Just having a support system in the mining industry does help,” said Theresa. “I can think back to, you know, any of the conferences I have attended at the same time as Alicia and it just being nice to have a good sounding board for situations that may happen.”
But Theresa also believes that the support system needs to come even sooner.
“What we need, in my opinion, is little people from a young age to be open to all types of paths. And we need to not stand in their way. That's something that we're having a problem with gender diversity in, you know. That's one of our big issues. We're raising up girl children to somehow not be able to visualize themselves, instead of girls. And we're trying to address it too late.”
You can check out Theresa’s children’s book called “Underground: My Mining Adventure,” which is about a little girl who goes underground for a day and discovers what the mining industry is all about.