How Hastings Deering is building a better workforce

Hastings Deering says it is working towards improving gender balance across the company.

Hastings Deering has set a task to improve diversity and inclusion within its workforce through the introduction of a new business-shaping initiative called ‘Together as One’. Ewen Hosie reports.

Mining has become increasingly cognisant of improving diversity and inclusion. The sector has lagged somewhat when it comes to such discussions compared with other industries, though it has been working to improve its reputation.

Gender balance in particular has come to the fore, with Tier 1 companies like BHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group recognising the need for greater female participation in the industry.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reported that around 16 per cent of workers in the mining industry were female in 2017–18. The Workplace Gender Equality Agency, meanwhile, produced statistics last year suggesting that remuneration for males is 14 per cent higher than females in the Australian mining industry.

Indigenous participation within the Australian mining industry is another strong focus – Rio Tinto participates in a local and indigenous participation strategy at its Amrun project in Queensland, for example, while BHP has the Reconciliation Action Plan 2017–2020.

Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and mining suppliers have also joined this prevailing trend. Brisbane-headquartered Hastings Deering, one of the nation’s foremost suppliers of Cat equipment, parts, service and technology solutions in the mining and construction industries, introduced a flexibility and inclusion initiative, entitled ‘Together as One’, last year.

Hastings Deering launched the initiative to recognise the need for a greater variety of voices within the company, to promote its values by fostering a culture of acceptance and inclusion among staff. The company shaped the initiative into five action areas: culture, gender, abilities, LGBT and generational.

The five action areas represent characteristics recognised as putting people at risk of workplace discrimination and prejudice.

Hastings Deering executive manager – safety and sustainability, Suzannah D’Juliet, leads the ‘Together as One’ initiative. She says the program ensures that everyone within the company gets the right to a fair go at work. To improve innovation of thought, D’Juliet believes diverse perspectives are a requirement.

“If we can cover that kind of participation across all five of our initiative areas we’ll get better outcomes. We understand that’s how we get peak performance,” D’Juliet tells Australian Mining.

“The purpose of the initiative is to ensure that the 3500 people who come to work at Hastings Deering every day know no matter their race, gender identity, abilities, sexual orientation or age, they belong at the company and have a right to feel safe and supported so they can do their best work.

“The program was launched in January 2018 and is designed for our people by our people – we have executive sponsors, but our action groups are teams of people from a wide variety of job roles who participate across all levels of the business.”

The five action areas are designed to integrate with Hastings Deering’s four existing enterprise values – no harm, integrity, transparency, and care. The program is sponsored by the company’s chief executive officer, Dean Mehmet, and its executive team and supported by a D’Juliet-chaired flexibility and inclusion council that sets out the terms of reference for the program enterprise-wide.

The council guides the respective action groups in the execution of actions they want to take on behalf of an interested group of employees. The culture group, for example, focuses on the diversity of cultural beliefs, values and backgrounds within the organisation, with an overall aim to make employees feel both heard and valued.

The gender group focuses on increasing the awareness of the valuable contribution of all genders and is working on promotion and facilitation of equal opportunity to support balanced participation.

D’Juliet says Hastings Deering is just starting its journey towards better representation for women.

“We’re working towards a gender balance because it makes good business sense to do so,” D’Juliet says.

“We want our business to reflect our communities, markets and customers. It is through valuing our difference and embracing our diversity of thought that we will be able to achieve no harm, build value for our shareholders, create great jobs for our people and provide exceptional service for our customers.”

This article appears in the May 2019 issue of Australian Mining.

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