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Coates launches new diversity and inclusion initiative

Coates launches new diversity and inclusion initiative

Coates has launched a new diversity and inclusion initiative – ‘See It. Be It.’ – showcasing female representation and highlighting career pathways within the company. The initiative aims to inspire more Australians to pursue rewarding careers within construction and heavy industry.

Murray Vitlich, CEO at Coates, expresses enthusiasm for the initiative, emphasising its commitment to championing diversity and inclusion in these sectors.

“Construction is the most male-dominated industry in Australia, so it’s important to provide visible pathways for women and ensure that everyone, regardless of gender, sees themselves reflected in our industry,” says Vitlich.

Creating an inspiring visual narrative

To kick-off the initiative, Coates conducted two photo shoots in Sydney and Melbourne featuring some of its female employees. The women represented a diverse range of roles at Coates, including a first-year electrical apprentice, second-year mechanical apprentice, technical engineer, solutions specialist of pumps and fluid management, branch supervisor, hub manager, area manager, customer service coordinator, account manager, major project manager, driver, contracts accountant, general manager of industrial solutions, and national manager of environment and sustainability.

Award-winning photographers Renee Nowytarger and Nicki Connolly captured authentic, strong and confident images of the women in their work environments, highlighting the diverse talents, skills and contributions of women at Coates and challenging gender biases and stereotypes.

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“For too long, construction and heavy industry has been perceived as a field for men,” says Vitlich. “We hope that by seeing these amazing role models in action, and reading their stories on our social media channels, Coates can encourage more women to consider and pursue careers in male-dominated industries, and particularly the construction industry.”

“For the coming generations of engineers, electricians, mechanics and project managers to step into the world we work in, it is essential that first they can see it’s possible.”

The photos, stories and behind-the-scenes videos will be featured on Coates’ social media channels today and throughout March. Additionally, the photos will be used for broader marketing initiatives, reinforcing Coates’ commitment to showcasing imagery that authentically represents its workforce, industry and society at large.

Coates’ ongoing commitment to diversity

While there has been progress in increasing female representation in heavy industry, women still make up only 13.3 per cent of the construction workforce in Australia, as reported by Jobs and Skills Australia’s Labour Market Insights.

Elise Manns, executive general manager for people and safety at Coates, says the company is committed to driving greater diversity within its own ranks and the wider industry.

“When you come across one of our branch managers, project managers, engineers, or any role within our business – there’s a 22 per cent (current representation of roles filled by women at Coates) chance that person is a woman, which is well ahead of the industry average,” says Manns. “At Coates, we’ve set a goal of 25 per cent female representation by 2025.”

“While there are some issues that still need to be addressed, we’re encouraged by our progress.”

Coates was recognised for its efforts to actively promote and encourage female participation in construction at last year’s New South Wales National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) Awards for Excellence, where it won the Crystal Vision Award. “I’m delighted that we’ve now been nominated for the award at NAWIC’s National Awards this year,” says Manns.

Other significant milestones achieved by the company over the past four years include:

  • Empowered 85 women through four cohorts of the Leadership, Excellence and Performance (LEAP) program;
  • Elevated female representation across all roles, including 78 leadership positions;
  • Improved policy and procedures around parental leave;
  • Launched women’s development and networking workshops; and
  • Enhanced hiring practices to promote inclusivity.

“While we celebrate these achievements, we remain committed to driving change within the industry, pushing boundaries and thinking differently,” says Manns. “We know that visibility is key to empowering women to pursue their dreams, which is why we’re so excited to launch ‘See It. Be It.’.”

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