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Garson is in lockstep with the times

March 9, 2022

Al Vermeersch, mine manager, Stacey Roy, Integrated Operations scheduler, and Dan Miron, Process superintendent, stand next to a reserved parking sign for expectant mothers. This is just one of several new Diversity & Inclusion initiatives they’ve been working on at Garson Mine. Absent: Edward Joy. Photo: Vale Archive

When good intentions about Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) and committed people connect, great things happen.  

Sometimes it only takes a spark to ignite a project. In December 2021, Garson Mine colleagues Al Vermeersch, mine manager, Dan Miron, Process superintendent, Stacey Roy, Integrated Operations scheduler and Edward Joy, worker representative, were tossing around ideas about D&I when Al suggested they make it official. In January, the group started meeting bi-monthly, brainstorming ideas on how to make the workplace a psychologically safe space that would be more inclusive and welcoming to every individual. 

Al, Stacey, Dan and Edward began by identifying “easy wins,” as Stacey explained it, initiatives they could get off the ground quickly. This included a lock on the women’s dry for privacy and a designated parking spot for expectant mothers. 

‘It was a defining moment for me’

Stacey got involved in the group because she has an interest in D&I. She belongs to the D&I group at Long Harbour, where one of the initiatives is a D&I Glossary of Terms. Vale News wrote about this, which you can read here

For Dan, the reasons for his interest hit closer to home. “I always like to get involved in D&I initiatives, and I have always pushed for them. I’m Indigenous and I joined the Indigenous + Allies Network, and my sister, Tina Kavanagh, has worked at Vale since 2001. The first time I brought her to Garson Mine,” recalled Dan, “everyone in the room stopped what they were doing because no one was used to seeing a woman there. In that moment, I could feel what it was like for her, and for other women who work in industries dominated by men. It was a defining moment for me; I have never forgotten it.”  

Stacey added that those kinds of reactions are rapidly changing, thanks to an influx of women in the workforce. This is great for D&I, of course, but it also comes with a new set of challenges. 

“The women’s dry in the Engineering building is quite small,” she explained. “There is just one toilet and an open space for the shower area that has two shower heads. So, for people who have faiths that encourage modesty, showering or changing in a space with other people—even the same gender—would not be aligned with their beliefs.”

Creating safe and inclusive spaces 

In very short order, Stacey and the team procured a lock with the words “vacant” or “occupied,” and had it installed on the door. This way, anyone using the dry can have complete privacy, when needed. 

Another “easy win,” which was also implemented in December, was creating a designated parking spot for expectant mothers. There is currently one spot and plans are in the works to add another. 

Larger projects include improving accessibility to the Main Hub building, which has lots of stairs, making it difficult for people with wheelchairs and walking aids. “As soon as the snow melts we’ll get ramps in,” Dan said, but in the meantime the team has their eye on a longer-term and more permanent solution. 

In January, the team did a GEMBA of the Main Hub building to identify problem areas and possible solutions that would work with the existing infrastructure. GEMBA, a Japanese word, is the act of identifying any abnormal conditions, hazards or wasteful practices. 

Uplifting initiative 

The result: Two areas were identified where lifts could be installed, and now work orders are in process for the lifts. “One lift will open to the main hallway, and the other will go to the warm room. This will help open up the entire building to everyone,” said Stacey. 

Currently, the total number of employees and contractors at Garson is about 300, and all of them need to filter through the building to tag in and access the warm room. 

The Garson D&I team is small, and only just started in December, but already they have made big strides, and with every step forward they help to Improve life and transform the future. Together. 

The team is looking for more members. If you’re interested in joining, please email Stacey at Stacey.Roy@vale.com or Dan at Dan.Miron@vale.com

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