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Former Anglo American boss Cynthia Carroll joins Glencore board

Cynthia Carroll was the first non-South African and first female chief executive of Anglo when she was appointed in 2007 (Image courtesy of FT | YouTube.)

Miner and commodities trader Glencore (LON: GLEN) added on Tuesday a third female director to its nine-person board, appointing former Anglo American (LON: AAL) chief executive Cynthia Carroll to its board.

Carroll, who led Anglo American for more than five years until she stepped down in 2013, has vast experience in the sector. While at Anglo’s helm, she was one of only the four women CEOs among FTSE-100 companies and the first female to take the top position at the diversified miner when she joined it in 2007. 

Carroll, 64, was also the first non-South African and first non-insider to run the company, founded in Johannesburg in 1917 by Sir Ernest Oppenheimer.

While at Anglo’s helm, Carroll was one of only the four women CEOs among FTSE-100 companies and the first female to take the top position

Under her direction, Anglo became a market under-performer. She had to deal with the effects of declining commodity prices and crippling strikes affecting the company’s operations in South Africa. Another major issue that affected Carroll’s reputation was Anglo’s battle with Chilean copper giant Codelco.

Her appointment as Glencore’s non-executive director comes as the company’s long-time chief executive Ivan Glasenberg prepares to step down later this year. He will be replaced by Gary Nagle, head of coal assets.

Gender diversity advocate

Carroll is currently a non-executive director at Hitachi (TYO: 6501), Baker Hughes Company (NYSE: BKR) and Pembina Pipeline Corporation (TSE: PPL). Previous non-executive appointments have included BP, Vedanta and the Sara Lee Corporation. 

She has long been an outspoken advocate for gender diversity in the industry as it remains male-dominated.

In a survey of 38 companies conducted in 2020, the Responsible Mining Foundation found that miners are starting to look seriously at increasing the proportion of female executives at the board and senior management level. Most of them however, are not attempting to assess the impact of their operations on women.

“Companies should require, not ask that executives promote, recruit and include women,” Carroll said in a 2019 interview on the sidelines of a conference in Singapore.

“It’s a very, very conservative industry and it needs to change,” she added. “They have got to be casting their net more broadly, and they’ve got to be looking at women.”

Glencore is looking for a new chairman to replace Tony Hayward, who cannot continue in his role much longer under the UK corporate governance code.

Glasenberg, who owns about 10% of Glencore, has said he doesn’t plan to be the company’s next chairman.