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Social performance pioneer leads global shift in mining

AusIMM Bulletin
ยท 600 words, 2 min read

Social performance is a field of professional practice that has grown significantly in the mining industry, as AusIMM Fellow Janina Gawler can attest.

Social performance pioneer Janina Gawler FAusIMM(CP) (pictured) is keenly aware that social performance (SP) professionals have not always been considered a critical part of mining operations. Historically, SP professionals were seen as ‘outsiders’ and as SP evolved, it first was considered ‘good practice’ before becoming ‘expected performance’.


SP professionals are now vital for companies to obtain and maintain their social licence. Particularly as investors and wider stakeholders express interest in how companies are performing in Sustainability. Social Performance is the “S” in ESG. Those working in the field can now even become accredited through AusIMM’s Chartered Professional (CP) program – a global first for the mining sector. Janina notes the significance of this shift in perception. ‘This is a career path that has merit and standing in the industry – and more broadly,’ she said.

A changing landscape

At the beginning of Janina’s career in mining, no formal recognition of social performance professionals existed. In fact, when Janina started at Rio Tinto (then CRA), the “new competencies” framework had only just been established. “I was surprised that these were seen as unusual,” she said, on applying her social science skills to the industry.

However, as initially isolated examples of social performance were shared with the professional community, the importance of the role of SP professionals grew.

In September 2004, in conjunction with several Australian based mining companies, Janina facilitated a workshop on social performance, helping identify the competencies to be developed and standardised, and building understanding of social performance within the industry for front line practitioners.

Over time, Janina has seen the discipline become much more recognised and valued. ‘Every company requiring access to land for its operations must be able to obtain and maintain a social licence to operate. This requires a whole of business approach, including using formal agreements which set out mutual benefits and access to local employment and local procurement and commitments to minimise impacts,’ said Janina.

A globally recognised field

Perhaps one of the most significant advances is the formalised recognition of SP professionals through AusIMM’s Chartered Professional program, providing resources companies and stakeholders with a level of assurance that the registered SP professionals working with them have the necessary qualifications and training to achieve the best possible outcomes.

Janina is an assessor for the program, helping review the applications of others so that they can become accredited. The combination of greater recognition, clearer professional pathways and an increased range of learning opportunities reinforces just how critical SP professionals are to modern mining.

Sharing industry knowledge

New training and upskilling opportunities are available. Janina is also one of the facilitators of AusIMM’s ESG and Social Responsibility Professional Certificate. Alongside Janina, the course is led by other social performance experts, including Bruce Harvey FAusIMM(CP), Geraldine McGuire FAusIMM and Ingrid Meek MAusIMM(CP).

Through this online course, participants learn how to minimise ESG-related harm and maximise value to resource enterprises, affected stakeholders and broader society.

The course provides for a broad level of ESG understanding, suitable for resource sector employees, consultants and analysts with some or no current understanding of ESG. It also suits environment and social performance professionals who want an understanding of where their specialised work fits in a broader business context.

More information

Are you in a leadership role within a mining operation and needing to make sense of how and why ESG and Social Performance is impacting on your business and the ability to operate? Or looking to further your career in environment and social performance? Find out more about AusIMM’s ESG and Social Responsibility Professional Certificate

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