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Developing a fit-for-purpose workforce


  • Improve engagement levels of employees
  • Increase the number of women in the workplace
  • Deliver the people scorecard as per the plan


Our trade-offs refer to the difficult decisions made during the year in the context of resource scarcity. Below are some of the significant actions taken during a difficult year to do so:

  • Increased investment in training and development to meet our objectives of employing from our host communities and targeted population groups
  • Reduced employment levels over time as our mines become increasingly modernised and automated
  • Increased spending to ensure the health and safety of our employees during Covid-19


In a year dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic, keeping our people safe, healthy and productive was our driving focus. We also advanced our diversity and inclusion strategy, implemented new ways of working as part of our drive to attract, develop and retain top skills, and continued to maximise the number of employees from our host communities.

Gold Fields’ workforce of 18,412 people comprises over two-thirds (69%) contractors – significantly higher than 2019 as a result of the construction of our Salares Norte mine in Chile, which is almost exclusively carried out by contracted firms. Beyond this, the composition of the key demographic groups among our workforce remained stable during 2020 when compared with previous years. Women make up 20% of our total Group workforce and 21% of our leadership positions. In total, 73% of employees in South Africa are Historically Disadvantaged Persons (HDPs) and just 2.8% of employees at our Ghanaian mines are expatriates.

One of the most significant restructuring exercises in Gold Fields over the past two years was the reduction of South Deep’s workforce in 2018 and 2019 following section 189 retrenchments. This significantly changed the workforce profile, and South Deep now has a leaner team in line with the requirements of a mechanised mine. Furthermore, as we continue to build the required skills set for a mechanised mine, there has been a marked improvement in productivity per employee to 303 tonnes/employee from 286 tonnes/ employee in 2019.

The Group’s focus on host community employment also changed our workforce profile, and host community members comprise 53% of our workforce (2019: 55%). Importantly, this aligns with our strategy of creating value for the communities in the regions where we operate. More information on host community employment is detailed on Value creation for stakeholders.


Employees   Contractors   Proportion of
2020 2020 2019 2020 2019 2020
Americas 4,268 568 545 3,700 2,862 98%
Australia 2,998 1,668 1,657 1,330 1,266 78%
South Africa 4,027 2,226 2,310 1,801 1,674 84%
West Africa 7,003 1,063 1,046 5,940 6,198 99%
Corporate 116 116 97 1 75%
Total 18,412 5,641 5,655 12,771 12,001 86%

1 Employees only


Category 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016
Total workforce 18,412 17,656 17,611 18,594 18,091
HDPs employees (%)1 73 59 72 71 72
HDPs employees – senior management (%)1 51 52 43 57 55
Minimum wage ratio2 1.71 1.97 2.40 2.43 1.97
Female employees (%) 20 20 19 16 15
Ratio of basic salary men to women 1.31 1.14 1.25 1.25 1.31
Employee wages and benefits (US$m)3 412 395 442 506 482
Average training spend per employee (US$) 1,211 1,912 2,469 2,258 1,896
Employee turnover (%) 6 16 354 6 12
1 Excluding foreign nationals but including white females. Percentages are of South African workforce only
2 Entry level wage compared with local minimum wage. This ratio excludes Ghana, as the region only employs management-level employees with the transition to contractor mining
3 This excludes benefits paid to employees working on capital projects


The Covid-19 pandemic continued to challenge our people and operations, and is set to continue doing so during 2021. It has taken a terrible toll on our employees – as at mid- March 2021, almost 3,000 of our colleagues have tested positive for Covid-19, and 10 employees or contractors unfortunately passed away after contracting the virus. We implemented an extensive testing programme at all but our Australian mines which, to date, have not reported a single positive case.

The high number of cases at our operations in South Africa, Peru, Chile and Ghana reflects the high prevalence rate of Covid-19 in our mines’ neighbouring communities. We detail the extensive health and educational programmes we put in place to test, protect and inform our employees, as well as how we assisted those employees who did contract the virus, on our website at

During 2020, our operations spent approximately US$30m on Covid-19-related initiatives and interventions, such as specialised camp accommodation, testing equipment and facilities, additional labour costs to cover key positions, and transport facilities. Critically, Gold Fields paid all employees their salaries during Covid-19 pandemic. This includes employees who were unable to work during the various stages of lockdown at our Cerro Corona mine in Peru and South Deep in South Africa, which was completely closed for three weeks and only partially opened for a further three weeks.

Gold Fields responded quickly to the outbreak of Covid-19, closing offices and operations and implementing strict lockdown protocols in line with government-imposed regulations in all our jurisdictions. We already had a comprehensive Flexible Work Policy in place, enabling a relatively seamless shift as employees transitioned to remote working wherever possible. Once restrictions eased and employees could return to our sites, we ensured they followed our strict return-to-work policies and procedures, as well as on-site testing, social distancing and sanitation measures. In Peru and Chile, we introduced the concept of “team cells”, whereby employees worked within dedicated teams to limit their contact with other employees. This also made contact tracing easier in those cases were an employee became infected.

Communication was central to keeping employees safe, informed, connected and motivated. We set up a dedicated public Covid-19 portal on our website, which provided a central repository for all information and communication material. Leadership videos and virtual communication guides, published in multiple languages, helped employees to continue work remotely and productively. We also enhanced the Company’s information technology (IT) systems to make remote work easier while ensuring we effectively managed cybersecurity risks.

The mental health of our employees during lockdown and isolation was also a key consideration during the year. All employees have access to free, confidential counselling and support services all hours of the day. These services provided them with additional material on mental health issues during lockdown and isolation, as well as how to deal with balancing the dual demands of family and working from home. We augmented this messaging by additional mental health awareness communication distributed to our employees.

While some employees found remote work challenging, others embraced it. We updated Gold Fields’ Flexible Work Policy during the year to prepare the Company for an expected increase in flexible work applications.

Covid-19 will undoubtedly continue to disrupt our operations and people during 2021. Our teams are developing strategies to assist our employees in dealing with the impacts of a prolonged pandemic, particularly as it relates to mental wellness.


Human resources (HR) management is a key component of managing environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, which have become an increasingly critical consideration for our stakeholders, including our capital providers. As part of developing Gold Fields’ nine ESG priorities – to be included in our ESG Charter with 2025 delivery targets, which will be made public later in 2021 – three relate directly to managing of our workforce. These are:

  • Building a diverse and inclusive workplace
  • Adopting new ways of working
  • Enabling cultural transformation

Adopting to new ways of working is central to our ability to attract, retain and develop the right skills. While embracing new technology is an important part of this ESG priority, it is by no means our only focus area. Gold Fields embraces a broad definition of modernisation that also includes shifts in culture, processes and systems.

Our training and development efforts focus on equipping our people with the skills required by an evolving mechanised, modernised and automated mining industry. In 2020, we invested US$1,211 per employee in training (2019: US$1,912). The decrease was the result of fewer face-to-face training sessions in light of Covid-19 lockdowns and social distancing regulations. In response to increased virtual working, we raised the number of online training courses to enable our employees to access learning content easily. We will continue to enhance this service offering in 2021.

Our leadership competency framework forms an important part of our talent attraction and leadership development strategy. It focuses on leadership’s ability to create an inclusive and enabling culture, demonstrating leadership excellence and building a credible brand.

Our recruitment process relies on comprehensive data and analytics, and utilises systems to track the time it takes to fill critical roles. Critical role turnover for the Group was 2.4% against a target of 5%. Attracting the next generation of workers to the mining industry is a key focus, and we therefore continue to track the age profile of our workforce. Competitive benefits, flexible work arrangements and opportunities for growth, development and mentorship are, inter alia, aimed at attracting a younger skills set.

At the moment, only 29% of our people are younger than 35. We see this changing as we modernise our operations.

We continued to move HR processes to digital platforms that allow for employee self-service, enhanced mobile systems for engagement and performance management, and e-learning and big data analytics to track people-related metrics.


Our ESG priority to enable culture transformation requires extensive employee engagement to ensure we build a culture of trust and leadership, while identifying what needs to change. We have completed around 80% of the programmes we initiated following employee climate surveys conducted in 2018 and 2019. These include initiatives to improve communications, learning and development, creating an enabling environment and recognition of employees.

On the back of these programmes, the Company conducted several pulse surveys and focus groups to determine the efficacy of the plans we are implementing, and to gauge whether we improved the scores of previously low-ranking areas. These areas were leadership, communication, recognition, and learning and development. The outcome showed that engagement levels have improved over the past year. Employees also responded positively to Gold Fields’ prioritisation of the safety and wellbeing of its people during the current Covid-19 pandemic.


Our diversity and inclusion strategy includes three areas of focus – workforce diversity, workplace inclusion, and sustainability and accountability – and presents a roadmap for how we can achieve our business and people goals over a five-year period.

In setting targets for diversity and inclusion, Gold Fields focused on representation across all aspects of the employee lifecycle, including attraction, development, promotion and attrition. In doing this – as opposed to setting blanket targets across the business – we can ensure we identify our diversity gaps at a more comprehensive level. This allows us to target actions specifically at those areas and employee lifecycle points where we need to improve.

We have developed a diversity and inclusion dashboard that captures and measures all aspects of representation across the employee lifecycle, including:

  • Diversity workforce profile
  • Retention
  • Talent management
  • Inclusive mindset (cultural aspects that foster a diverse and inclusive workplace)

The dashboard seeks to encourage diversity and inclusivity beyond a focus on gender targets. We believe this is a more comprehensive approach towards achieving a workforce that reflects the demographics of the countries in which we operate, while at the same time addressing the skills needs of modern, automated gold mines.

We will continue to focus on increasing female representation during 2021. This decision is based primarily on the fact that we have sufficient baseline data in this area to accurately identify where we need to focus our attention, and to measure performance over time. In the year ahead, we will develop sufficient baseline data for diversity workforce profile, retention, talent management and inclusive mindset.

All our regions have been tasked with comprehensively reviewing and setting targets for:

  • Percentage of our workforce classified as women
  • Percentage of women in leadership roles (D-band and above)
  • Percentage of women in core mining roles

Importantly, these targets will be used to determine long-term incentive awards.

Across our global workforce, 20% of Gold Fields’ employees are women (2019: 20%). Some 54% work in core mining activities, while 21% hold management positions (2019: 20%). The ratio of basic salary for men to women is 1.31 (2019: 1.14). Three out of our eight Board members are women, including the Chairperson. The turnover of women during the year was 22%, compared with the male turnover rate of 78%, both unchanged from 2019.

Gold Fields was also included in the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index (GEI) for the third year in a row – achieving an average score of 69%, which exceeded the general 66% average achieved across other companies included in the index. We were one of 380 companies across 11 sectors included in the 2021 GEI. We believe that being included in this index reflects the appropriateness of our measures to, among others, promote female leadership, cultivate an inclusive culture and ensure gender pay parity, as well as our commitment to disclosure on these issues.


We remain committed to engaging with our workforce on all material issues that affect them. We uphold employees’ rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining, and ensure that our contractors also abide by these standards.

Union membership among our employees is 73% at South Deep, and 0% in Ghana due to our transition to contractor mining at Tarkwa and Damang. Contractor union membership in Ghana is estimated to be 6%. In Australia, an estimated 3% of employees belong to unions, while in Peru 25% of our direct workforce and 29% of contractor workforce are unionised. In Chile, 9% of our workforce is unionised.

While union relationships have historically been strained at South Deep, we continue to foster a positive working relationship with union leaders and members since the completion of the section 189 retrenchment process in 2018. This is particularly evident in our joint efforts to mitigate the impacts of Covid-19 on our workforce.


Our remuneration structures are designed to stimulate and incentivise high performance through marketrelated base pay and benefits, attractive performance-driven incentives, as well as recognition and retention programmes. The core objective of our Remuneration Policy is to attract, retain and motivate top talent to deliver superior results.

The Company is acutely aware of the global concern around excessive executive remuneration, fair and responsible remuneration between management and junior-level employees, as well as pay disparities between genders. We believe that our approach to short and long-term remuneration is substantively fair and consistently applied throughout the Group.

Gold Fields’ Remuneration Policy drives and incentivises the achievement of our strategy, and continuously supports the creation of stakeholder value by aligning performance with commensurate levels of reward. In this way, we align stakeholder interests.

For details of our Remuneration Policy and 2020 remuneration and incentive payments to executives and directors, refer to our Remuneration Report of our 2020 Annual Financial Report (AFR), which can be accessed at