The ground-breaking journey that we began in November 2021 with the White Ribbon campaign has culminated with more than 400 employees taking the White Ribbon pledge to end gender-based violence and promote gender equity. What’s more—there’s a desire to keep the conversation going across the North Atlantic and beyond, said Mike Garreffa, manager, Leach Operations, Long Harbour, NL. Mike and Adam Loder, superintendent, Operations, spearheaded the White Ribbon initiative.
White Ribbon is an organization founded in Toronto in 1991 to end violence against women and girls, promote gender equity, healthy relationships and a new vision of masculinity.
All employees across Canada and the UK were invited to participate in White Ribbon coffee sessions, and our employees embraced the concept. Mike and Adam were supported by White Ribbon ambassadors Peter Martin and Adam MacMillan. Peter is the Technical manager at our Clydach Nickel Refinery in the U.K., and Adam MacMillan is on the Base Metals Strategy and Strategic Projects team in Toronto.
Mike and Adam coordinated a series of coffee sessions with White Ribbon executive director Humberto Carolo. The ambassadors functioned as key contacts to get people involved, answer questions, and keep the conversation going beyond the 16-day activism campaign.
For Mike, the coffee sessions were intensely personal and moving. “I remember becoming emotional at one point listening to someone who talked about growing up in a violent home and remember thinking: If one person is willing to share this kind of story, there are many more of our colleagues who went through the same thing. We covered topics like how to be an ally. How to speak up, and more. That rolled into the 16 days of activism where we asked employees to take the White Ribbon pledge. If we do not have these sessions – a safe spot to share – how would anyone know, and how can we learn without sharing?”
Mike added, “We spend so much time with people at work, but we don’t spend time talking. Behind every person, there’s a story and so much to learn. White Ribbon is about active listening, which is one of our company’s pillars.”
According to Adam, he received feedback from people who said they appreciated Vale putting time and resources into the campaign and personal feedback about seeing someone like him in a leadership position who took on an ambassador role. “I used the campaign as a springboard to share an article about retention of women in mining with some colleagues who are women, and who joined Vale in the last couple of years. I asked for their thoughts on what Vale could do better, and in some cases, I got an entire page of ideas back. It’s a good example of how there are always more opportunities to do better in this area.”
Peter said at our Clydach Nickel Refinery, “Our paper pledge poster was placed in the main reception area where everyone comes in. We filled the form with signatures from the office staff to operations. We’ve done White Ribbon behaviour shares at meetings, and we are relating it to real-life events, so people understand, like the tragic kidnapping and murder of Sarah Everard by a police officer. We want to keep this top of mind, so we are looking at including some White Ribbon training next month during our regularly scheduled training month.”
In Newfoundland and Labrador, the White Ribbon pledge forms were a huge success. Mike said, “We had more than 220 pledges signed online and another 200 or so signed on paper. That means we reached more than 400 people in the first year of running the campaign—that’s great, but there’s more work to be done.”
All in all, Mike is happy with the level of engagement, as he knows people are building awareness and they are actively listening. “We have reached out to the Diversity & Inclusion Committee and Humberto at White Ribbon to see what options we have to continue with the campaign next year,” he said, adding, “and the years after that.”
To read the Vale News White Ribbon series, click on the following links:
- Overview story: Allies, it’s time to put on the white ribbon
- White ribbon ambassador Adam MacMillan
- White ribbon ambassador Peter Martin