Published On: Thu, Jun 26th, 2014

Ivan Glasenberg Appoints First Ever Woman Patrice Merrin To Board Of Glencore

Ivan Glasenberg / Getty

In praise of political correctness. Ivan Glasenberg’s Glencore mining company today announced it has finally appointed a woman, Patrice Merrin, to its Board of Directors and independent Non-Executive Director of the company. As the only member company of the FTSE top 100 companies which had yet to do so, the news probably resonates in a wider frequency range than really it should.

Yes this is something long overdue, and today’s initial press reactions accordingly seems to be very favorable, but perhaps we should focus more on Ms. Merrin’s own qualifications, which are pretty impressive, than just on her gender.

The Glencore announcement states that, following initial roles with top Canadian companies Molson and Canadian Pacific, she worked at Sherritt, the Canadian diversified miner, for 10 years until 2004, latterly as Chief Operating Officer.

Subsequently Patrice Merrin became CEO of Luscar, Canada’s largest thermal coal producer. She is currently a non-executive director of Stillwater Mining. She was elected as a Director of Stillwater after being proposed by activist investors in a proxy contest, and has been proposed for other mining company boards by activist groups as well.

Patrice Merrin was a director of the Alberta Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation in the period 2009-2014. She was also a member of the Canadian Advisory Panel on Sustainable Energy Science and Technology from 2005 to 2006, and from 2003 to 2006 was a member of Canada’s Round Table on the Environment and the Economy.
Patrice Merrin
Tony Hayward, Chairman of Glencore, commented with the news of the appointment, “On behalf of the Board I am delighted to announce the appointment of Patrice Merrin. Patrice’s in depth experience of operating across the resources sector will help strengthen the Board’s ability to work with the opportunities and challenges presented by the global extractive industry. Her record of non-executive director appointments, activist involvement and industry advisory board service is also an excellent complementary skill set to our Board.”British Government Cabinet Minister, and Secretary of State for Business, Vince Cable, also got into the act saying the announcement is “a historic day for the FTSE”, adding, ”Businesses with diversity at their top are more successful.”

Ivan Glasenberg has been under pressure for quite a while now, from a variety of activist groups and UK politicians, to appoint a female Director to Glencore’s Board.Having recently just succeeded in installing the independent Chairman of his choice, Tony Hayward,  to the distinct dismay of some parts of the City, this could be thought now to be a bit of very sound corporate diplomacy by Glasenberg.

Certainly it succeeds in changing the subject in a positive way. If only commodity prices were currently not tumbling quite so fast in the background, life would indeed be a good deal easier already for the giant mining and commodities trading company.
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