Workforce, Certification & Training

Celebrating diversity key to unlocking talent

Recognising leadership and growth in the rail sector, the finalists for the 2020 Women in Industry Awards are celebrating the rail sector’s diversity.

The headline figure from the Australasian Railway Association’s (ARA) Gender Diversity Report was that rail had once again continued to grow the participation of women in the workforce.

Since 2017, the ARA has been surveying the industry to measure the gender diversity of rail at all levels, from track and maintenance workers, through to senior management. These report cards also highlighted the breadth

of roles that women take within the rail industry, from working with rail operators, to consultants and suppliers.

In 2019, reported Caroline Wilkie, CEO of the ARA, the industry achieved its best figures yet.

“In 2014, women represented only 17 per cent of the workforce. In 2018-19, women’s representation in the industry was 27 per cent.”

This increase, six per cent higher than previous figures in 2016-2017, has been driven by a number of factors and initiatives across the industry. By 2019, 86 per cent of rail organisations had formal policies or strategies that support gender diversity, 41 per cent have specific gender pay equity objectives.

These strategies have been supported by the work that the ARA has done for the industry as well. After the publication of the Women in Rail Strategy, the ARA set up the Women in Rail Advisory Committee and the Women in Rail Network and mentoring program to support initiatives undertaken by rail organisations themselves. These cross-industry groups have been able to provide a forum for networking and information sharing across the industry.

“As a result, we are seeing more women build their network in rail to support their career advancement, connect with mentors and create new opportunities for growth,” said Wilkie.

Despite these achievements, when compared to the national workforce, there is still more work to do. For example, the national average of women in full-time roles is 38 per cent, while in rail only 21 per cent of full-time workers are women.

However, recent events may provide new opportunities. Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 and the associated change in working patterns, flexible working was one area that was seen as enabling greater diversity in the workforce, and not just for women.

“Flexible work is increasingly important for all of us, not just women. The experience of this year has shown once and for all that we can succeed while allowing people to work flexibly. Many of us have juggled working from home alongside our kids attending school online and have still delivered for our employers,” said Wilkie.

With 74 per cent of rail organisations reporting having formal policies for flexible working arrangement in 2019, and a 16 per cent increase in employer funded paid parental leave for primary carers, taking the industry figure to 62 per cent, Wilkie said it is likely that these policies will be extended.

“As our workplaces return to normal, we should be considering how flexible arrangements can ensure our people can live their lives well while also working effectively. Providing flexibility will increasingly be part of attracting and retaining our top talent, whether male or female.”

Indeed, as flexible working has shown, the benefits of a diverse and multifaceted workforce are felt through the industry. With rail having a critical workforce shortage, particularly with the planned and projected levels of investment, it will be more important than ever to encourage more people to the rail sector.

“As the rail industry grows, we will need the best and brightest to propel the industry forward and we can only achieve that if we are a truly diverse industry. Put simply, if we don’t have a diverse workforce we are missing out on talent,” said Wilkie.

For an industry that provides a critical service to a variety of the general public, diversity is also about being able to meet customer needs.

“Diverse workplaces encourage a mixture of thought and ideas,” said Wilkie. “Different perspectives help bring innovation to the fore and make sure the rail industry is meeting the needs of everyone that uses the rail network.”

Beyond attracting diversity into the rail workforce, the next step is retention. This can be in part achieved through industry awards and recognition, which showcase the range of roles that women take in the industry and the successes they achieve.

In July, Rail Express announced the finalists of the 2020 Women in Industry awards. Showcasing the talents of women in industrial, and often male-dominated sectors, the awards this year saw a record number of nominations, beating the 2019 record by 27 per cent. The growth of the awards was not only represented in the nominations themselves, but the number of individual businesses and organisations submitting nominees across varied industrial sectors.

The awards span multiple categories, including Social Leader of the Year, Rising Star of the Year – sponsored by Atlas Copco – Business Development Success of the Year, Industry Advocacy Award, Safety Advocacy Award – sponsored by BOC – Mentor of the Year, and individual excellence awards across the fields of transport, engineering (sponsored by BAE Systems Australia), mining, and manufacturing.

The most nominated category was the Rising Star Award, which received a record number of entries this year.

Rail organisations represented in the awards include agencies within the NSW transport cluster, including Transport for NSW, Sydney Trains, and Sydney Metro.

Sonja Malcolm, senior manager – capability & development from Sydney Metro, is a finalist for the Industry Advocacy Award, which recognises the work done to promote the transport industry. Malcolm has transformed the way that NSW government agencies support and enable sustainable employment of disadvantaged groups.

Nadine Youssef, associate director at Sydney Trains is a finalist for the Safety Advocacy Award. Youssef has worked to raise awareness of electrical hazards in her role within the Electrical Distribution Unit as the networks is modernised.

Lidija Dumbaloska, professional head of electrical engineering at Sydney Trains, is a finalist in the Excellence in Engineering category. Dumbaloska has supported collaboration across transport agencies and the energy sector to grow knowledge of electrical engineering.

The opportunity to highlight the achievements of women such as Malcolm, Youssef, and Dumbaloska is critical for the industry as a whole said Wilkie.

“When we recognise the women that are achieving great things in the industry, we also encourage other women to aspire to build their own careers in rail. As they say, ‘You can’t be what you can’t see.’ So, it is important to celebrate the successes of women in rail.”

In addition, although not named in the awards, behind each finalist and potential winner is the champions and organisations that have supported them.

“It is also important to celebrate the men and women that are championing diversity in their organisations and awards help us recognise the positive efforts of many in our industry,” said Wilkie.

Winners were announced in August and a full list of finalists are below.

Social Leader of the Year
Jackie Lewis-Gray – BAE Systems Australia
Alanna Vial – BlueScope
Althea Papinczak – Women in Design and Construction (WIDAC)
Elizabeth Taylor – RedR International
Gemma Murphy – QBE Insurance
Jane Tiller – Monash University
Sarah McSwiney – Boeing Aerostructures Australia

Rising Star of the Year
Proudly sponsored by Atlas Copco
Alicia Heskett – Shell Australia (QGC)
Helen Vu – BOC
Kate Robertson – Geological Survey of SA
Kate Stanbury – Stantec Australia
Keren Reynolds – BAE Systems Australia
Louise Azzopardi – WesTrac
Nima Sherpa – BHP
Rose Lindner – MMG
Vera Milutinovic – Inenco

Business Development Success of the Year
Rachael Ashfield – ifm
Caroline Murray – APS Industrial
Jackie Thew – Abrasive Media Supplies
Marika Logan – Elgas
Stefanie Frawley – Colliers International
Sonia Turner – Scope Systems

Industry Advocacy Award
Rose Read – National Waste & Recycling Industry Council

Elizabeth Molyneux – AGL Energy
Hayley Jarick – Supply Chain Sustainability School
Jacquelene Brotherton – Transport Women Australia Limited
Jodie Sainsbury – Kickass Women
Joy Marrocco – AGL
Shay Chalmers – Strategic Engineering
Sonja Malcolm – Sydney Metro

Safety Advocacy Award
Proudly sponsored by BOC Ltd
Nadine Youssef – Sydney Trains
Annastasia Denigan – Cement Australia
Lyndal Denny – Women In Trucking Australia
Maddy Holloway – CITIC Pacific Mining
Natalia Trewin – WesTrac Pty Ltd
Noelani Reardon – Transport for NSW
Terese Withington – Weir Minerals Australia Ltd
Tracey MacDonald – BAE Systems Australia

Mentor of the Year
Dayle Stevens – AGL Energy
Clytie Dangar – CRC ORE
Kylie Jones – Diageo Australia
Marie Varrasso – Officeworks

Excellence in Manufacturing
Rochelle Avinu – Leica Biosystems
Josie Costanzo – Brickworks Building Products
Marina Melik – Boeing Aerostructures Australia
Rebecca Parnell – Artisan Food Company Pty Ltd
Samantha McDonald – Bluescope

Excellence in Mining
Sarah Withell – Whitehaven Coal Limited
Carlie Hayward – BHP
Clytie Dangar – CRC ORE
Jacqueline Madsen – Caterpillar
Kim Parascos – iVolve Industrial Technology
Rose Lindner – MMG
Terese Withington – Weir Minerals Australia Ltd

Excellence in Engineering
Proudly sponsored by BAE Systems Australia
Elizabeth Taylor – RedR International
Jane MacMaster – Engineers Australia
Jo Withford – Department of Transport
Lesley DeGaris – Boeing Aerostructures Australia
Lidija Dumbaloska – Sydney Trains
Mandy Petrides – Bosch Australia

Excellence in Transport
Melissa Strong – Lindsay Australia Limited
Agnes Lesson – Elgas
Camilla Drover – Transport for NSW
Danelle Kempton – Dananni Haulage
Jane Gillespie – Arup
Lyndal Denny – Women In Trucking Australia

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