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Kinross Gold encourages women across sites and levels to share advice in its learning and coaching program.Provided

Sixteen years ago, Kathleen Grandy came to Kinross Gold as a junior lawyer. Over the years, her jobs became progressively more senior within the mining company’s legal department. And then, three years ago, Grandy moved into human resources.

“It’s certainly obvious from my career path that I’ve had access to a lot of different opportunities,” says Grandy, now senior vice-president of HR. And she’s not the only one. “We have tons of examples of people who have tried something a bit outside their area and found success there or at least have had exposure and development that helps them in their next role.”

Since she moved into HR, Grandy and her team have been focusing on scaling up the company’s leadership development programs, all designed to reach different levels and backgrounds and to support Kinross’s diverse work force in Toronto and several other locations around the world.

In addition to coaching, mentoring and online educational and professional development platforms, Kinross has implemented a forum for senior leaders to outline the principles that set the expectations of leadership there. Another program targets emerging leaders in Kinross offices globally, while workshops address diversity, equity and inclusion as well as cross-cultural communication – essential for a multicultural workplace.

When Geisa Maia moved from her job as a geologist in a Kinross mine in Brazil to Toronto a few years ago, communication was initially a little challenging. “Even though we speak the same language, it’s not the same way of communicating as in our home countries,” says Maia, now director of resource geology. “We hire people for their talent and their skills, but if they’re not comfortable speaking their minds, it could hold them back.”

Once Maia moved into a people manager position herself, she could tell that some other employees were experiencing similar struggles. So when the company put together a workshop on cross-cultural communication, her team was enthusiastic. “Kinross offers solutions and helps us to put them in place and make them work,” she says. “That speaks a lot to the wider company culture.”

Maia also recently joined Women at Kinross, a six-month learning and coaching program that brings together women at different levels and from across different sites to share their experiences and advice.

“It really empowers women to believe that even though mining is not gender-balanced, there’s a lot of room for a woman to grow,” she says. “It’s a great initiative because you have directors and you have people who have just become managers facing challenges for the first time, and they have the opportunity to ask questions without sounding like they don’t know what they’re doing. It’s really supportive because everybody has been there.”

When a company invests in leadership, Grandy says, employees feel more engaged, and that has a positive impact on happiness and productivity. But the bigger impact is a more resilient organization. “We’ve realized over the last few years how much leadership matters – now maybe more than ever,” she says.

With the pandemic, the increasing focus on decarbonization and other ESG topics, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Kinross has had its share of challenges. “One of the things that has become really apparent is that the leadership makes or breaks how well you can adapt,” says Grandy. “The world is very unpredictable, and the quality of leadership is going to be what sets apart companies that are going to succeed through all the turmoil and turbulence and those that won’t. We want to be ready.”

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