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December 10, 2019

Gender diversity in operations: How 9 organisations are taking action

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In operational industries such as engineering and mining, it’s widely acknowledged that the gender imbalance is more extreme. Yet, there’s a number of progressive organisations pushing to create a more gender equal sector.

Nine of WORK180’s endorsed employers share how they’re improving their ability to attract, recruit and retain more women in a traditionally male-dominated industry. Keep reading to discover the gender diversity initiatives they’re championing and the cultural changes they’re driving.


“We’re constantly working towards improving policies, benefits and our culture where women feel like they belong.” – Vanessa Visman, Global Director of Operational Readiness, Hatch

Hatch recognises the gender gap within the engineering profession and is actively working to improve and implement programs that encourage greater gender balance, both within the company and wider profession.

“At Hatch, we’re focused on everything from attracting more women to developing female employees through mentorship and sponsorship, and retaining them to achieve a balanced next generation of female leaders,” says Visman.

“We recognise that we have a long way to go to achieving the perfect picture. But we understand that we’re more successful when inclusion and gender diversity is part of our conversation and, more importantly, embedded into our culture.”

Incitec Pivot Limited

“It’s a common misconception that women don’t want to work in male-dominated industries.” – Davina Shearer, Diversity and Inclusion Adviser, Incitec Pivot Limited, and proud Kamilaroi and Yuwaalaraay descendant

Incitec Pivot Limited, a global manufacturer of explosives, fertilisers and industrial chemicals, knows this notion to be untrue, with women representing 33% of its new hires over the past two financial years.

But Incitec Pivot Limited isn’t just focused on the numbers.

“We recognise the benefits that a more inclusive and diverse workforce can bring, and ensure we consider ALL talent, to get the right person for the right role,” says Shearer.


“I’ve always been a minority as a woman in engineering, and when I reflect on my career over the last 20 years the number of women in engineering hasn’t increased as much as I thought it would. That’s why strong interventions are required.” – Sinead Giblin, Executive Director of Operations, Northern, Australia and New Zealand, Jacobs

After establishing gender targets four years ago, Jacobs is seeing the gender diversity dial move, with women in leadership positions growing from 14% to 24%.

“We’ve also supported greater shared care and flexibility for men, which has resulted in an uplift of new dads taking their full 12 weeks paid parental leave – from 18% to 29%,” says Giblin.

Laing O’Rourke Australia

“Our industry is best when we have diversity across all business and project roles, including more women represented at senior levels.” – Cathal O’Rourke, Managing Director, Laing O’Rourke Australia

O’Rourke has worked in the construction industry for more than 20 years – 10 of those in Australia – and he’s lost count of the amount of times he’s heard that it’s a male-dominated industry and there isn’t much we can do to change that.

“I don’t buy it!” he comments.

“We must change the way we design and deliver work to attract a broader demographic of people to the industry, and provide them with meaningful and long-term careers.

“This is why Laing O’Rourke Australia launched our 2019 Gender Diversity Action Plan, setting ourselves a number of deliberate and bold targets and initiatives that will see us attract more women into our business and, importantly, see more women promoted into leadership positions.”


“An inclusive Unitywater provides a work environment, organisational culture and opportunities that allow all of our people to thrive and bring their whole selves to work.” – Kenan Hibberd, Executive Manager of People, Culture and Safety, Unitywater

Unitywater is committed to providing a diverse workplace, with their One Team culture strengthened by challenging bias and standing for inclusive, open and respectful behaviours.

“Our Proudly Inclusive initiative provides the opportunity for anyone to follow their interests and have valuable career experiences with us,” explains Hibberd.

OZ Minerals

“OZ Minerals is a modern mining company.” – Gabrielle Iwanow, General Manager, Prominent Hill, OZ Minerals

OZ Minerals continues to actively promote a diverse and inclusive workforce.

“We’re focused on creating an inclusive work environment – a place that welcomes people for the depth and breadth of their experiences and background; a place that welcomes bringing this diversity to work,” says Ms Iwanow. “We believe this creates value for the people who work with us and our stakeholders.”

Boral Australia

“Diverse voices drive innovation and growth.” – Louise Keyte, General Manager of Innovation Development, Boral Australia

Boral Australia has an established Diversity and Inclusion Plan, and Council that supports the delivery of targeted outcomes. The plan’s focus is on leadership, communication and education; system and process design; gender equality and pay equity; generational diversity; and indigenous relations.

“In our industry, there are so many opportunities to contribute to shaping the way we build our future world,” says Keyte.

Evolution Mining

“I recognised the value of diversity and inclusion early on in my career.” – Bob Fulker, Chief Operating Officer, Evolution Mining (pictured centre)

When Faulker first started in mining, 100% of the workforce was male, yet he’s proud to have seen the industry change and make progress since then.

“In the 90s, I employed the first two female mining engineers into an underground operation in Kalgoorlie,” he says.

“Now in my role as COO at Evolution, I work with our leaders to grow an inclusive and diverse workplace where every employee is treated fairly, respected and can contribute to their full potential.”

Geology Superintendent, Marcelle Watson, is a great example of an Evolution employee being supported, through a flexible work arrangement, so she can achieve her full potential.

“Having ongoing discussions with her manager, Marcelle is able to define what flexibility looks like for her so she can lead a team of geologists, fulfil her career aspirations and be a parent,” explains Fulker.


“Having spent most of my career in resources, I’ve been lucky enough to work with some amazing women.” – Jo-Anne Scarini, Vice President Operations, South32 GEMCO

Scarini shares why South32 are removing barriers that have traditionally made it difficult for women to pursue careers in mining.

“For us, building a diverse and inclusive workforce that reflects the communities where we operate makes good business sense.”

At GEMCO, on Groote Eylandt in remote East-Arnhem Land, the South32 award-winning Rehabilitation team is an example of what a group of empowered women can achieve at work and in their community. The predominantly female workgroup has established an Indigenous Working Women’s Forum and are driving change from within their communities.

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About the Author
WORK180 promotes organizational standards that raise the bar for women in the workplace. We only endorse employers that are committed to making real progress so that all women can expect better.

Looking for a new opportunity?

Our transparent job board only has vacancies from employers we endorse and lets you see what benefits, policies and perks come with the job.