Attitudes and behaviors of mining sector employers towards the Indigenous workforce.
Joanie Caron, Hugo Asselin, Jean-Michel Beaudoin.
Several industries in developed countries are experiencing labor shortages, a particularly acute problem in the mining sector. Indigenous communities have a growing population, and some are interested in participating in mining. However, challenges prevent Indigenous people from entering the workforce. This research aimed to study the attitudes and behaviors of mining sector employers towards the Indigenous workforce, and to identify measures to promote recruitment, integration and retention of Indigenous employees. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 25 non-Indigenous employers occupying managerial positions and representing 17 mining projects located in Quebec and Nunavut (Canada). Eight of these projects were linked by agreements to neighboring Indigenous communities, either by being located on treaty territories or through Impact and Benefit Agreements (IBAs). The mean percentage of Indigenous employees was 23% in projects with an agreement, compared to 1% in projects without an agreement. While non-signatory participants discussed challenges related to education, racism and equity, signatory participants mentioned issues related to language, culture, and managers’ skills. Few measures were applied by non-signatory projects to favor the recruitment, integration and retention of Indigenous workers, whereas signatory projects applied many strategies to foster effective diversity management and meet agreement requirements. These strategies included liaison, mentoring and internal progression programs, as well as valuing Indigenous cultures in the workplace. Our results demonstrate the importance of legislation in creating incentives for mining companies to engage with the Indigenous workforce. We present avenues to better equip mining companies in diversity management and to increase employment opportunities for Indigenous people.