EMA Partners around the world: social and environmental responsibility is an imperative among the world’s leading industries
The global group of English origin EMA Partners, of which Dasein is associated, recently promoted a meeting in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, bringing together leaders representing the more than 30 member offices spread across the five continents. Representing Brazil, were the CEO Adriana Prates and the director Daniel Rezende.
The immersion represented a rich moment of learning and the opportunity to build an agenda for the national and international executive search sector. Among the main highlights of the debates, the growing commitment of executive search companies to increase the participation of women in the top management and company boards stood out. According to Prates, it was emphasized at the event that organizations that have feminine characteristics such as flexibility, sensitivity and resilience are better prepared to deal with the challenges of a world fractured by so many uncertainties and increased complexity.
Technology-related topics were also highlighted. “We are all living and shaping ourselves in the light of artificial intelligence, and this reflects on companies. AI is assuming a growing role in history, creating trends based on the relevance of algorithms. It is crucial that we pay attention to this fact and look for ways to understand it in a deeper way. Otherwise, we become strangers to ourselves.”
New paths for the mining and energy market
Also among the highlights of the global event, an extremely important subject for the Brazilian market: the paths of the industry linked to natural resources, such as mining and energy, and the role of executive search in driving the necessary changes. Considering that the world’s major investment funds demand compliance with ESG rules and that there is growing pressure from consumers and public opinion for actions that involve social and environmental responsibility, forward-thinking companies see this movement as an opportunity to promote real changes, in addition to highlighting their importance for the development of humanity.
Mining, for example, is essential for the manufacture of health care components (drugs and equipment), technology (smartphones and computers), among many others. In the field of energy, advances in the renewal of inputs are increasingly promoting energy efficiency for the world. But to ensure its importance and longevity, there is a consensus on the need to increase investments in technology research and development.
Among Brazilian mining companies, the pact is to increase by 53%, by 2030, investments and R&D Tech. According to Adriana Prates, this moment is very favorable for the mining and energy industry to promote real changes when it comes to ESG and many of them are presenting, with transparency, a plan for the implementation of measures related to social and environmental responsibility. “The tendency is for companies that feel threatened by this to be naturally excluded from the market and those that see it as an opportunity to increase productivity and growth, gain prominence and manage to leave safe and promising operations for the future.”
She emphasizes: “when companies decide to make changes to be on the side of the environment, there is a gain for the ecosystem, for the corporation and for all employees. There is no longer the possibility of having a successful business that does not have this in mind, so at this moment, companies need to be very attentive and with the awareness that they will reap the rewards if they act in accordance with the ESG.”
A look at practices in Africa and Asia
In order to broaden the analysis about the paths of the global mining and energy market and the role of executive search in the sector, we heard, in addition to Adriana Prates, representing Brazil, the leaders of EMA Partners in South Africa, India and Asia, respectively Chris Hardy and K Sudarshan – leaders who work in the main regions of the globe linked to the natural resources industry.
According to Hardy, for almost two decades, mining companies operating in Africa have been investing heavily in new technologies, research and development. There are three main drivers for this investment. The first is security. All types of mining, but especially deep-level hard rock mining, have posed a number of risks to human operators in the past. Today, ultra-low profile robotic drills, shovels and other equipment such as drones are controlled by people located at a safe distance.
The second investment is in efficiency and productivity. High-tech rock scanning equipment can see the rock and ore body behind the obvious rock face. And third comes ESG with new technologies, including the use of electric mining vehicles, to help reduce the carbon footprint. “Our advice to mining and energy companies is to re-assess their operations and identify how the new technologies can be applied to radically improve safety, productivity and sustainability. ”
In much of Africa, says Chris Hardy, the global ESG imperative, driven by the investment community, has resulted in its wholesale adoption by mining companies. “Currently, most countries’ energy is supplied by fossil-fuels, mainly coal, and governments are therefore committing to transitioning to renewable energy solutions by 2040-2050. Even where the state monopolises energy production, policy has been changed to encourage the private supply of solar, wind and hydro energy generation.”
All the major mining companies have elevated the leaders of their ESG departments to the board of directors. These executives are demonstrating that by meeting the new ESG imperatives, their companies are becoming more profitable and can ensure a more sustainable business model.
According to K Sudarshan, CEO of EMA Partners India and the entity’s regional president in the Asian region, globally, major economies are seeking energy and material security as demand for natural resources is increasing across the developing world. At the same time, factors such as climate change and global warming are playing a key role in shaping the industry’s future.
“Companies are investing in building efficiencies through the deployment of newer technologies which consume less energy and today most natural resources companies are big proponents of renewable energy. For instance, in a country like India, with an abundance of natural resources, there is an increased sense of accountability amongst major operators who are focused on deploying clean energy to propel their operations. For instance, in 2022, Indian businesses attracted over US$15 billion investments in renewable energy, a whopping 125% increase over the previous year.”
He points out that ESG themed funds are upping the ante in the region, and according to a recent report, Asia alone will have around $3.3 trillion in ESG assets under management by 2026. “This will be fastest growing region in the world, and we see significant focus on sectors like mining and natural resources. Companies in the sector are gearing up to make themselves compliant and attractive to such investors.”
The executive explains that most of the mining sector is controlled by the state, but private sector participation has increased in the last two decades. “We are now seeing the emergence of global scale mining businesses which have emanated from the region, especially China and India. Given the abundance of natural resources in these countries, we can only expect significant uptick of investments across the board.”
“Mining companies notably in this part of the world have invested substantial resources in area and community development activities. Further, they have made investments in allied areas especially primary education, housing, and livelihoods for displaced communities. In addition, many of them have contributed to building local area infrastructure and partnered actively with the governments. Companies over the years have dedicated teams and monetary resources to support local area development activities and engagement with all the stakeholders in the ecosystem.”
According to K Sudarshan, the Asian region is witnessing greater global mobility among executives. “Many of our clients have a large expatriate pool of managers who are globally mobile. Senior executives in markets like Houston, Calgary, Perth, Cape Town are now favorably inclined to consider opportunities across Asia and Africa.”
Another aspect to be considered, according to Sudarshan, concerns the attraction of recent graduates to the sector. “The future of the sector will be largely governed by its ability to infuse fresh talent which will prevent cannibalization of resources and optimize people costs.”
Leaders with a focus on regeneration
Executives from the mining and energy industries are leading transformations that promise to be a trend. Producing renewable energy, to include the source in the strategic planning of companies and make them energetically self-sustaining, is one example. This is the case of Largo Inc, led by Paulo Misk, and of Atlantic Nickel and Ferbasa, companies with operations in Brazil.
According to Adriana Prates, leaders have an enormous responsibility to lead practices to regenerate territories and people. “Leaders need to integrate communities socially, economically, culturally and make that region grow along with the company. In addition, they can contribute to compliance with environmental and safety laws and thus, they will have a collaborative relationship that will bring even more benefits to the corporation.”
Chris Hardy, leader of EMA Partners South Africa, cites attitudes of executives in the region that are an example for other countries. “Sunil Duggal, Chief Executive Officer of Vedanta Resources, is driving the establishment of renewable energy power plants at their mining and metals operations globally. Over at Anglo American Platinum, CEO Natascha Viljoen is leading the development of hydrogen-powered mining vehicles, in joint venture with newly-established hydrogen producers.”
According to him, all over the country, mining companies are building and operating solar photovoltaic and battery energy storage plants to provide round-the-clock power to their mines and processing plants. “Executive search firms are working closely with their clients to refocus search strategies to identify and attract executive talent that has embraced ESG and knows how to guide and transform the organisations that they lead.”