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Women in Business

By Michael Lefenfeld, CEO Cyanco


Cyanco has been successful in achieving diversity through the employment of women. At the leadership level, 43% of our team is female, including our COO, Michele Duttlinger, Chief of Staff, Kate Carney and Director of HR, Amy Olivares.

Not only are they the best people for their respective jobs, they also bring experience and skills from different backgrounds. This has broadened Cyanco’s purview and brought new learnings and work styles to our traditional way of doing business.

Compare this to the national average where women make up 48% of the US workforce (coming pretty close to an even 50/50 split). In the STEM fields, however, such as Oil & Gas and Manufacturing, they only make up between 20-24% of the workforce (according to the most recent US census data). McKinsey research shows that in Mining, the number is lower still at 8-17% – and when it comes to leadership, women are an even scarcer commodity in these market segments.


Like many companies that operate within the mining segment, Cyanco is making good progress on its diversity metrics. However, diversity can’t be just about numbers. Building the best teams – the most diverse teams that drive the best results – also means retaining and leveraging talent that brings a diversity of thought to the table.

This requires a culture where all voices are heard and respected…so it’s not just one person, one department or discipline that gets all the airtime and all the decision-making rights. For that to happen, company leaders need to dig deeper than numbers, and work to understand their own hidden biases or natural predispositions in order to truly understand the path to diversity – and the value it brings.

When it comes to gender equality I would encourage members of the mining industry to think about two things:

  • Number 1: broaden your horizons! If you’re having trouble recruiting female candidates, look at adjacent industries to find qualified professionals – such as women engineers currently serving in Oil & Gas or Specialty Chemicals.
  • Number 2: don’t make assumptions. Talk to the women on your teams and out in the field to understand what’s important to them and what they value most in an employer.

So that’s a little bit about how Cyanco works to achieve gender equality within its workforce. Monday our [final] post will focus on Supporting STEM initiatives.

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