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5 Questions with the company creating an award-winning culture

April 29, 2024
Systra team receiving their award at the Equitable Workplace Award 2024.

Our exciting new series of interviews with award-winning equitable employers is here to inform and inspire other teams determined to drive DEI — and our first conversation is sure to do just that.

* DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion)


Systra Anz image featuring CEO and CFO

Alana Newbrook and Alison Scott are the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) and CPO (Chief People Officer) of Systra Anz, winners of two 2024 Equitable Workplace Awards. This means that their organization is not only endorsed by WORK180 for its commitment to DEI, but was this year’s highest scoring small-to-medium-sized Endorsed Employer for two of our 10 key standards from driving workplace equity:

  • The 2024 Australian Equitable Workplace Award winners for career development
  • The 2024 Australian Equitable Workplace Award winners for inclusive and anti-discriminatory culture 

Q1. Alana and Alison, congratulations on winning the 2024 Equitable Workplace Awards for both ‘career development’ and ‘inclusive and anti-discriminatory culture’! What does this mean for Systra ANZ and how did you celebrate?

Systra ANZ was very proud to be awarded the ‘career development’ and ‘inclusive and anti-discriminatory culture’ awards. To celebrate, our CEO Alana Newbrook informed the broader workforce in our monthly newsletter and Town Hall. We then announced the awards to our LinkedIn followers ensuring that we could share this news with our clients, future candidates, and members of our international group.

In celebration, we have also made further commitments to addressing gender inequality, which has included the introduction of a Menstrual and Menopause Policy. As an organization that support flexible work, this policy extends on the reasonable adjustments that we can make in the workplace by introducing four days per year of paid leave that is separate to sick or personal leave that employees can access to assist them. 

“This is a starting point for our company and something that we will continue to review and look to build upon to support our workforce.”

Q2. Winning an EWA for ‘career development’ and ‘inclusive and anti-discriminatory culture’ doesn’t just happen. Since when and why has this been such a focus for your company? 

Our commitment to support women in the workplace and have a broad DEI commitment commenced over five years ago. We are very aware that our company works within industries that generally have a higher representation of men. This is evidenced through the published figures of the universities for the number of women completing engineering studies each year significantly lower than men. 

As a workplace, we want to be diverse and the desire to be inclusive meant that we needed to create a strategy and a framework to address this. Partnering with WORK180 was a significant step for us in making meaningful change. 

This partnership prompted us to consider practices we hadn’t even thought of, with one of the first considerations being the use of language in job advertisements. That was a couple of years ago but there have been constant “aha” moments, where some things are so simple to implement and change and can be so impactful but had not been considered. 

We have an Executive Leadership Team that is aligned and supportive of continuing to strengthen and review our practices to ensure that we are genuine and reflective of our workforce, industry and best practice. 

Q3. Would you mind sharing any specific challenges you’ve encountered in this space over the last few years, and how you’ve overcome them? 

“One of the biggest challenges that we have faced is that we work in an industry that has a shortage of women. So our challenge isn’t to just provide a workplace that is supportive and inclusive, but to also fundamentally partner with external organisations to increase 
the number of women who are interested 
in working within our industry.”

Our strategy has been broad and will continue to be for some time as we are aware that we need to support programs that look to target school age girls to take an interest in having a career within our industry and study STEM subjects. With women only making up less than 20-25% of graduates, we will not address the challenge without intervention from companies like ours.  

This is why we also support women in engineering societies, like WIESoc (at UNSW) and FIRE (at RMIT) as we want to connect with these young women and let them know that we are an organization that wants to foster and grow their talent. We do this by providing mentorship, sponsorship and support.

We also implement programs like that of Trellis to support women who do enter the industry and ensure we retain them. Trellis not only coaches women, but also provides training and coaching to their managers. 

Q4. What was the role that WORK180 played in these efforts?

We strongly value the feedback and insight we receive from working with WORK180. The regular review and benchmarking aids us to ensure that we are regularly reviewing our commitments and looking to improve.

WORK180 provides us information about what our peers in industry are doing helps to give us ideas and ensure that we can maintain pace with the expectation of what candidates view as desirable and necessary for them when looking for a new employer. We want to be an Employer of Choice and we want to ensure that we are providing support to our employees, so regular review and adjustment is critical to ensure we work towards this. 

Gemma Lloyd (CEO of WORK180) and Alana Newbrook (CEO of Systra ANZ)

Q5. Finally, do you have key focus areas or initiatives over the next year that will see you in the running for next year’s awards?

We are continuing to work to stretch our initiatives and expand the support for our workforce and future workforce to ensure that we provide a diverse and equitable workplace that is inclusive. 

a) We have recently committed to scholarships through the Public Education Foundation. These scholarships will be for young women from a First Nations background to study engineering as we look to close the gap on the disparity in the workforce. 

b) We have further expanded our work with the Trellis First Five Program to roll out Manager training to support women in the first five years of their career in male dominated industries. 

c) Working with our landlords to look to implement the facilitation of sanitary products within the bathrooms of the buildings in which we have office space. 

d) We announced before the government came out with their commitment to pay the superannuation on the government paid parental leave scheme, that we have commenced that from 1 April 2024. Our next step will be to provide superannuation on what would have been ordinary earnings for the period of unpaid parental leave.

Want to learn more about diversity, equity, and inclusion at Systra ANZ?

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About the Author

Sophie Main is WORK180's Brand and Content Manager, with a background in business improvement and a determination to make the working world a better place. She regularly collaborates with diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) experts to create content that will help companies support the careers of all women.

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