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Business trends

Women are BHP's last untapped resource

Back in stride, global miners push gender parity for productivity

A female BHP employee drives a haul truck at an Australian iron ore mine. BHP has set a 50-50 gender parity goal for 2025.

TOKYO -- When female miners drive trucks, they are gentler on the gears, leading to lower maintenance costs and longer machine life. This one example illustrates how, for resources companies trying to lift productivity on volatile profit margins, diversity is emerging as an unexpected watchword.

Multinational BHP, the world's biggest miner, now demands that over 30% of job applicants from its contractors be women. And since May last year, the company has been working with suppliers like Komatsu -- the Japanese equipment maker providing BHP with haul trucks and shovel systems -- to adjust steering wheels, cabin insulation and other features to better accommodate female workers.

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