How the Mining Industry (and Hollywood) can learn from Studio Ghibli

With National Women's Day this Sunday, what can the mining industry learn from Japan's most famous film studio?

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How the Mining Industry (and Hollywood) can learn from Studio Ghibli

By Andrew Thake

6th  March 2020


As the Oscars demonstrated, the film industry isn't 'walking the talk’ when it comes to female diversity.

Little Women was woefully underrepresented in the categories. Many great films by female directors were overlooked. Joanna Hogg, The Souvenir;  Melina Matsoukas, Queen & Slim; and Céline Sciamma, Portrait of a Lady on Fire to name but a few.

Embarrassingly, the only film studio that I can think of which consistently makes films with strong female characters and has a 50% female casting ratio is Studio Ghibli. I say embarrassingly as Studio Ghibli is a) a Japanese not Hollywood film studio b) is an animation studio.

As a comparison it is worth comparing Studio Ghibli’s track record of films with strong female characters with its Hollywood equivalent, Pixar. 

Studio Ghibli was set up in 1985, Pixar 1986. It took Pixar 26 years to have its first female lead character (Merida, Brave, 2012) by which time Studio Ghibli (Kiki in Kiki’s Delivery Service,1989; Princess Mononoke in Princess Mononoke, 1997; Chihiro in Spirited Away, 2001 etc etc) had been ‘walking the talk’ for years.

Spirited Away is also the highest grossing Japanese film of all time.

Therefore when I hear Hollywood say that female leads don’t equate to good box office, I find that argument as obsolete as a good female leader doesn’t equate to a good leader. It’s just an outdated mindset.

The lack of female leadership in the mining industry is worrying. Only 4 out of the top 250 mining companies have female CEOs.

However with the mining industry, unlike Hollywood, I do feel that it is at least trying to ‘walk the talk’ and change.

Most mining companies I speak to understand that diversity is a source of strength. Many have targets for female employment, not just at the board level, but throughout the organisation. Diversity isn’t a tick box exercise for them– it’s an essential part of how they evolve and grow as a business. It won’t happen overnight, but you can see the number of female CEOs and women in positions of leadership will increase over time.

At Mines and Money I’m proud that we work with organisations such as Women in Mining and International Women in Mining that promote diversity. With National Women’s Day this Sunday I would encourage all mining professionals to support these organisations and other initiatives that help foster greater female diversity.

With management mindsets changing, pressure from investors and other key stakeholders, and the changing nature of work in the mining industry, there is no excuse for a mining company of the future not to have a 50/50 split of male / female employees, and more mining CEOs as well.

Maybe the mining company of tomorrow will be like Studio Ghibli? #womeningmining #minesandmoneylondon #i

Andrew Thake

Head of Content, Mines and Money