Downer EDI Mining granted anti-discrimination exemption to employ more women

Contractor Downer EDI Mining has secured an exemption from anti-discrimination laws, allowing it to advertise for 50 women-only truck driving positions a year at its Queensland mine sites.

Granting the exemption, Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal is permitting the mining contractor to specifically recruit female entry-level operators, The Australian reports.

Downer EDI told the tribunal a skills shortage and desire for improved gender balance is driving the initiative.

The contractor said it is aiming to "break the stereotypes around gender and occupation'' by employing ten females to drive trucks at each of its five Queensland mine sites each year.

Currently 14 per cent of the company’s workforce are women, it hopes to lift that figure to 25 per cent by 2020.

The company said it is looking to recruit female truck drivers who live near its operations or those who are able to fly-in from a Queensland town.

Seeking the exemption, the company was concerned it could be liable for unlawful discrimination if it advertised the female-only jobs without it.

Downer EDI told the tribunal men on average take more risks and by increasing the female workforce it could help create a better safety culture on site.

In response to the contractor’s argument senior tribunal member Clare Endicott said Downer EDI Mining had made compelling submissions for a general exemption under the Act.

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