Coates, John Holland and BHP have come together to champion increased female representation in both sport and heavy industry. As sponsors of the AFLW, these three companies are spearheading efforts to encourage more women to participate in their historically male-dominated sectors.
Elise Manns, executive general manager – people and safety at Coates, said the company is implementing various initiatives to improve female participation rates across all key job groups within the organisation.
“We’ve increased representation of women in our nationwide workforce from 18.4 per cent in FY21 to 22.2 per cent as of 31 October 2023, and in management roles from 16 per cent to 22 per cent over the same period,” said Manns. “But we know more needs to be done, as do our customers at John Holland and BHP.”
“Only through understanding the challenges women face – both in sport and in the workplace – can we start to identify how we can continue to remove the barriers and even the playing field for women.”
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As part of the initiative, Coates took part in an exclusive training session held in Perth, with Fremantle Dockers AFLW star Ebony Rose Antonio. The aim of the session was to celebrate the increasing representation of women in both sport and heavy industry, and to outline the necessary steps to ensure that everyone, regardless of gender, has an equitable opportunity to thrive in their respective careers.
Local employees from Coates had the unique opportunity to engage with Antonio, gaining valuable insights into her experiences as a female athlete, role model and tradesperson. Attendees also took part in a rigorous training session based on the regimen of AFLW athletes, as well as a friendly competition featuring 20-minute round-robin games.
“I’ve always worked hard, whether that’s been on-field or off-field, especially being an apprentice and being a female in a male-dominated area; I’ve always had to work hard and prove myself to my male counterparts,” said Antonio. “I love the fact that I get to be a role model for younger girls to look up to and to inspire, as I never had that opportunity when I was a young girl.”
With a goal of achieving 25 per cent female participation in both managerial roles and company-wide by 2025, Coates has established a flexible working policy. Additionally, in 2021, Coates launched the Leadership, Excellence and Performance Program (LEAP), designed to identify and develop high-performing future female leaders.
John Holland, naming partner of the Workplay platform for the AFLW – which connects female athletes in the sport directly to flexible employment, education and career development opportunities – has welcomed 18 AFLW players into its ranks. The players come from almost a dozen different clubs and work in diverse and flexible roles across the company, spanning from involvement in building and infrastructure projects to corporate functions.
Bronte Enright, strategic talent programs manager at John Holland, said creating meaningful change for women in construction is a significant undertaking, but can be achieved by coming together as one united team.
“Staring into the issues around flexible working and equity and really hitting that head-on will benefit all our industries,” said Enright. “We also know that sharing the journey through storytelling is critical to our success.”
Elisa Nerone, vice president human resources at BHP, also emphasised the importance of championing women in industry and in sport.
“We’ve seen the benefits for BHP in working to achieve gender balance across our global workforce, and that’s why we are partnering with others to create new pathways and increase female participation,” said Nerone.
“It’s exciting to see organisations like the AFL, Coates, John Holland and BHP come together with a united voice and shared ambition to help girls and women across Australia pursue new opportunities and thrive in their chosen careers.”