Creating a pathway to rail: Bombardier’s grassroots approach to diversity

Bombardier’s efforts in Australia to grow and maintain diversity within its workforce are at the core of what makes a successful rail business today.

In late September, a milestone was reached at Bombardier Transportation Australia. The date marked 12 months since the launch of the Women’s Professional Network (WPN), an internal empowerment group for the women employed at Bombardier’s sites around Australia. To mark the occasion, a photo taken earlier in 2020 was published on the manufacturer’s social media sites showing the Melbourne base WPN members, and a few male staff, standing in front of a newly built VLocity train set at the manufacturer’s Dandenong facility.

Demonstrating the commitment to diversity from the top down, standing at the front of the group were Victoria’s Minister for Women and Prevention of Family Violence, Gabrielle Williams, Australasian Railway Association (ARA) CEO Caroline Wilkie, ARA Chair Danny Broad, CEO of the St Kilda Gatehouse, Stacey Aslangul, and president of Bombardier Transportation Australia and New Zealand Wendy McMillan.

“Diversity has many faces but the WPN is a shining example of grass roots work that is being done in our business to help lift our female colleagues in their work with Bombardier Transportation,” McMillan said to acknowledge the project’s milestone.

The significance of having a leader like McMillan is not lost on Rahul Kumar, head of human resources Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia at Bombardier.

“It starts from the top. Most of the diversity and inclusion initiatives have to be top driven, so the leadership buy in is key for us and we’re very lucky to have Wendy as president.”

Kumar has been part of a core team that has been leading a push on diversity and inclusion at Bombardier in Australia. Avoiding large, complex projects that lose momentum and fail to be implemented, Kumar has focused on grassroots initiatives such as the WPN that can be sustained over a long period.

“If we’re going to be focussing on diversity, let’s bring women together. Most of the work is done outside of HR by testing and commissioning engineer Kamakshi Rambhatla. What started as just an effort of getting women together has now resulted in mentoring programs, we’ve had workshops being run by local speakers and we’ve had our local member for Dandenong and the Minister for Women, Minister for Prevention of Family Violence and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Gabrielle Williams come and address them.”

In the 12 months since its launch the WPN has not only improved the careers of those involved and connected women from Bombardier’s sites across Australia but has inspired a movement of sorts with other WPNs being born in Southeast Asia and India. Today, over 20 mentoring groups run under the WPN banner, and an award and recognition program highlights those who have gone above and beyond.

“We now get 20-30 nominations consistently every month,” said Kumar. “At the start, we had to go and ask, ‘Do you want to nominate someone?’ Now it’s changing from a pull to a push system.”

While the program has driven engagement internally, Kumar is aware of the challenges of attracting not only women, but young people, and people from a variety of cultural backgrounds to the rail industry. However, this has not dissuaded Kumar from trying.

“Everyone keeps telling us we don’t have female graduates, we can’t find females in shop floor roles, we can’t find tradeswomen. It’s a reality too, and it’s not easy to find if you advertise, but we said, ‘Are we going to stop at this problem or are we going to find a way?’”

In addition to the traditional pathways into a manufacturing career such as apprenticeships and graduate programs that Bombardier offers, development plans were put in place to provide pathways for those who maybe not have been able to access the same training and education opportunities or who did not come from a traditional rail background.

One of these was TRANSIT. Set up by the Level Crossing Removal Authority (LXRA), the initiative highlights potential rail careers to those from other sectors that were in decline, in particular the automotive sector. Also, in collaboration with LXRA, Bombardier partnered on GROW, which seeks to introduce people from marginalised or disadvantaged backgrounds – including asylum seekers, refugees and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – to training and employment opportunities in the transport and construction industries. A third program that Kumar invested in is the Overseas-Qualified Professionals program, run by Melbourne Polytechnic, which provides a pathway for those with international qualifications to have their training recognised in Australia.

“In a conventional world, individuals from these programs would have found it difficult to get through because they either didn’t have the skills, the background, or the education,” said Kumar. “We have broken those barriers; they prove themselves during internship programs and they considered against any open position in Bombardier.

“We focused on these unconventional ways of getting talent in and once they’re in, then we make sure that they have a buddy and a mentor to put them on the journey.” Most of our OQP employees are doing a fantastic job, said Kumar.

These approaches are leading to success at Bombardier, with the female workforce introduced to manufacturing roles working on the Dandenong shop floor, another first in Bombardier’s long history at the site. There are six women working in various roles currently, and recently, two more female electricians have been selected to join the manufacturing workforce. A similar very structured approach is being followed in our services site in West Melbourne, where we now have four female employees in shop floor roles.

“Now we are starting to see cycles building, so all those efforts now are seeing fruition after a two-year journey,” said Kumar.

MEASURING DIVERSITY
A now common element of corporate reporting is metrics which measure diversity. Often measured at the board level, these metrics can also be across a company as a whole. For Bombardier, the company globally tracks the number of women in management roles.

Beneath these headline figures, Kumar points out, is a focus on ensuring there is a pipeline of diverse expertise, and not only based on gender. In addition, diversity is not always captured in clear percentage figures.

“What we have done locally is look at how many women we have in succession plans to leadership because we always need to invest and ask if we have that pipeline of talent. Then we also look at diverse nationalities. This is a hard one to track in a place like Australia. For example, I myself came from India and I moved here in 2004. So, when I put my application down now what do I call myself, an Australian with an Indian background? I would not because I have got an Australian passport, I am Australian. We have done informal mapping, and in Dandenong itself we have over 30 different nationalities represented in some shape or form.”

Another focus is ensuring that the diversity is spread throughout the business, and not only in roles that are traditionally associated with a gender or cultural background.

“Sometimes there are good numbers on diversity but that 10 per cent or 20 per cent figure is skewed because a chunk of it is getting picked up by these traditional functions. In Australia, we are focusing on where we struggle, and that is in what we call conventional rail roles, and that’s building trains, maintaining them and also rail signalling,” said Kumar.

The final area that goes beyond a simple statistic is the retention rate. A diverse hiring policy is no use if the staff come and go through a revolving door, so Bombardier is looking closely at the reasons for a person leaving the organisation to see where it can do better.

“Most people will say I’m going to a new company for career progression but why could we not provide those avenues internally? We will track that to gather that information and then try and make some initiatives to bridge those gaps,” said Kumar.

THE VALUE OF A DIVERSE ORGANISATION
While academic research has proven that diverse organisations are more productive and profitable, as Kumar points out, for an organisation like Bombardier the value of inclusion is self-evident. With products and services operating in over 60 countries and approximately 36,000 employees, working across cultural boundaries is essential.

“Having a workforce that’s inclusive is the cornerstone of delivering projects, that’s how we survive.”

For example, the high capacity signalling system for the Metro Tunnel Project in Melbourne that Bombardier is delivering as part of the Rail Systems Alliance, brings together Australia and Thailand based teams along with other sites around the world. Similarly, the locally designed New Generation Rollingstock for the South East Queensland network are a collaboration between Bombardier teams in Australia and India.

“If we are not a diverse and inclusive organisation, we will start to see it in our delivery, in our products in the way they’re made and developed,” said Kumar.

In 2021, Bombardier will be doubling down on these efforts in Australia with the introduction of a hiring process that is blind to gender, sexuality, religion, marital status, and age, to remove any forms of unconscious bias.

“We are almost ready with a standard format,” said Kumar. “When CVs come in, they come in all fancy shapes and forms, some have got a vision statement, some have got objectives, so we’re going to remove that. We’re going to standardise our format. We’re going to say if someone is interested in Bombardier we want you to put your inputs into these broad categories and we don’t want your name, we don’t want your sexual orientation, religious beliefs, whether you’re married or not, your date of birth and also any reference to your gender.”

While such company-wide efforts are making a difference, as Kumar points out, there are stories every day that showcase why it is always important to keep a focus on diversity and inclusion within rail.

“In 2019, one of the graduates from the GROW community was telling me that he was the first in line from his whole family to ever get into a professional job. He had a double degree in engineering but was working part time as a home removalist. There was a graduate position coming up and I got a call from our LXRA contact saying you should have a look at this young engineering graduate. I said, ‘Not a problem, we will put him through the process.’ Now that guy is doing a fantastic job based in our West Melbourne site.”

Driving positive change: Rail recognised in Women in Industry Awards

The Women in Industry Awards celebrated the achievements from a number of industries, and Nadine Youssef’s work keeping Sydney Trains safe won particular recognition.

On August 24, the winners of the 2020 Women in Industry Awards were announced. The annual awards, co-presented by Rail Express, recognise excellence across heavy industry in Australia, including manufacturing, resources, waste and resource recovery, and transportation. This year saw a record number of nominees, and judges who were drawn from across the Australian industrial landscape commented on the calibre of nominations received.

Christine Gibbs-Stewart, CEO of Austmine and member of the judging panel, noted that nominees came from all stages of their careers.

“As I judge it was great to read each applicant’s inspirational story. From young women driving change to those more experienced who are running large businesses, the nominees this year should all be congratulated for their outstanding achievements,” she said.

One of the most nominated categories was the rising star of the year award. As such a competitive field, the number of nominations demonstrated the depth of talent that is coming into industry, said judge Hayley Rohrlach, AECOM senior civil engineer and national chair of the Women in Engineering Committee for Engineers Australia.

“The Rising Star of the Year award nominees were very impressive, and the industry as a whole has a lot to be excited for if that’s the level of young engineers, miners and scientists that are coming through the ranks.”

Winning this award was Alicia Heskett, of Shell Australia (QGC). The other finalists were 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, and Vera Milutinovic – Inenco. “I hope they can continue their advocacy and sharing their enjoyment for engineering and STEM as a whole into the community to continue to bring (or retain) female engineers into the profession,” said Rohrlach.

As rail continues to grow the participation and representation of women in the industry, judges commented that awards such as these serve as a way to encourage more women into traditionally male dominated industries, while also celebrating the successes of those who have made this their career. Melissa Donald, National Association of Women in Operations (NAWO) board member, noted the importance of the awards.

“By highlighting the achievements of the finalists and winners I hope we can inspire more women and men to pursue careers in operations and continue to drive better gender balance across all industries.”

Institute of Quarrying Australia chief executive Kylie Fahey shared these sentiments.

“The awards promote the contribution of women and support the broader agenda of diversity and inclusion. By highlighting and celebrating the contribution of women to the industry, we can encourage more women into careers, help increase representation in leadership roles and support change,” she said.

“Awards are an important way for industries to acknowledge and celebrate innovation, ideas and change that are fostered through the involvement of individuals at all levels and through the diversity in teams. The applications demonstrate this and hopefully encourage other women to put their ideas forward and continue to strive for positive change.”

Nadine Youssef’s work within Sydney Trains was highlighted when she won the Safety Advocacy Award.

“THE WORK WE DO MATTERS”
Every day, Nadine Youssef plays a vital part in ensuring that over 1.3 million people who use the Sydney Trains network daily get to their destination safely. Her work in this field was this year recognised with receiving the Safety Advocacy Award.

Youssef highlighted that working for a large and varied organisation such as Sydney Trains has allowed her to grow her career.

“It promotes a culture of quality customer service while expecting the highest standards of ethical behaviour from all its employees. It strives for a culture of integrity and professionalism and innovative thinking. With customer service and safety always at the heart of what we do, there is an enormous variety
of interesting, challenging and rewarding opportunities across a range of professions,” Youssef said.

Since 2018, as the associate director of the Electrical Distribution Unit, Youssef has been the custodian of the Electrical Network Management Plan and the Electrical Network Safety Rules (ENSR). Youssef began and led the redesign of the ENSR to meet industry best practice standards and promote organisational continuous improvement.

Significant infrastructure upgrades such as the introduction of Sydney Metro increased the demand for electrical work and resources, in addition, Sydney Trains’ management of substation access permits limited efficiency. Parallel with redesigning the ENSR, Youssef was an integral member in implementing a pop-up electrical learning centre to overcome the shortage of accredited electrical personnel and provide a safe location to train staff away from the hazards of the live environment.

Receiving the award, Youssef noted that the recognition extends to a support network of colleagues, family and friends.

“This recognition is motivating and humbling and a reminder that the work we
do everyday matters. However, I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for my incredible mentors, colleagues, family and friends, so this nomination is equally extended to them.”

The importance of a supportive work environment is one that Youssef noted.

“In my office and in my field, I am surrounded daily by intelligent, strong and talented people and following this experience I will continue to lean in and lift up those around me and am inspired to find ways to pay back and recognise the work of others.”

While the finalists and winners of the Women in Industry awards were not able to meet at the usual awards ceremony, a virtual network has sprung up, and has encouraged Youssef to share her experience with others.

“I am glad to have a new network of women who I can collaborate with as I continue on my professional journey. Being named a finalist and winner of such an award is a professional and personal achievement that carries with it great responsibility. This experience compels me to continue to share my story and knowledge with even more women looking to grow in my industry.”

As Youssef looks to promote a cohesive approach to public planning and integrated services, she is encouraging others within industry to think about where they want their career to take them.

“It is important to establish a strong, productive working relationship with your colleagues and peers and to take responsibility for your own career path. Don’t be afraid to try your hand at different things in your organisation and then only you will be able to decide your future career path. Lastly, never stop learning and developing yourself regardless of your age. In this ever-changing world it is becoming more and more important to be able to change and adapt with it.”

For Youssef herself, who has progressed to an executive role within Sydney Trains, she is only just getting started.

“I truly feel that my biggest achievement is yet to come. I am proud of my career to date and the impact that I have been fortunate to make, but I am always looking to achieve more tomorrow than I did today and am constantly striving to improve myself and the organisation I work for.”

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
Winner
Jackie Lewis-Gray – BAE Systems Australia
Finalists
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
Winner
Alicia Heskett – Shell Australia (QGC)
Finalists
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
Winner
Rachael Ashfield – ifm
Finalists
Caroline Murray – APS Industrial
Jackie Thew – Abrasive Media Supplies
Marika Logan – Elgas
Stefanie Frawley – Colliers International
Sonia Turner – Scope Systems

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

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
Winner
Nadine Youssef – Sydney Trains
Finalists
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
Winner
Dayle Stevens – AGL Energy
Finalists
Clytie Dangar – CRC ORE
Kylie Jones – Diageo Australia
Marie Varrasso – Officeworks

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

Excellence in Mining
Winner
Sarah Withell – Whitehaven Coal Limited
Finalists
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
Winner
Elizabeth Taylor – RedR International
Finalists
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
Winner
Melissa Strong – Lindsay Australia Limited
Finalists
Agnes Lesson – Elgas
Camilla Drover – Transport for NSW
Danelle Kempton – Dananni Haulage
Jane Gillespie – Arup
Lyndal Denny – Women In Trucking Australia

Women

Women in Industry winners announced

On Monday, August 24, the winners of the Women in Industry awards for 2020 were announced.

Judge Melissa Donald, board member of the National Association of Women in Operations said that the quality of nominations made judging difficult.

“The calibre of nominees was so impressive, with a range of experience and backgrounds, which made judging challenging. Congratulations to the winners, whose achievements can inspire more women and men to pursue careers in operations and continue to drive better gender balance across all industries.”

The winners of each category are:

Social Leader of the Year – Jackie Lewis-Gray – BAE Systems Australia

Rising Star of the Year, sponsored by Atlas Copco – Alicia Heskett – Shell Australia (QGC)

Business Development Success of the Year – Rachael Ashfield – ifm efector

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

Safety Advocacy Award, sponsored by BOC ltd – Nadine Youssef – Sydney Trains

Mentor of the Year – Dayle Stevens – AGL Energy

Excellence in Manufacturing – Rochelle Avinu – Leica Biosystems

Excellence in Mining – Sarah Withell – Whitehaven Coal Limited

Excellence in Engineering, sponsored by BAE Systems Australia – Elizabeth Taylor – RedR International

Excellence in Transport – Melissa Strong – Lindsay Australia Limited

Hayley Rohrlach, 2020 chair of the National Committee for Women in Engineering said that the awards should serve as encouragement for all to continue to grow the industries they work in.

“I hope they can continue their advocacy and sharing their enjoyment for engineering and STEM as a whole into the community to continue to bring (or retain) female engineers into the profession.”

Women

Women in Industry Awards announces finalists for 2020

The finalists for the Women in Industry awards have been announced.

The annual award, co-presented by Rail Express, highlights the contributions made by women to industries including transportation, logistics, manufacturing, mining, construction, and waste management.

This year saw the highest 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 nominations this year.

Rail organisations represented in the awards include Transport for NSW, which included finalists Neolani Reardon (Safety Advocacy Award), and Camilla Drover (Excellence in Transport).

Sonja Malcolm, senior manager – capability & development from Sydney Metro was nominated for the Industry Advocacy Award, while Nadine Yousef, associate director at Sydney Trains received a nomination for the Safety Advocacy Award.

Lidija Dumbaloska, professional head of electrical engineering at Sydney Trains, received a nomination for Excellence in Engineering.

Judging will now begin before the winners are announced online in late August.

A full list of nominees are below.

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

Rising Star of the Year
Proudly sponsored by Atlas Copco
Finalists
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
Finalists
Caroline Murray – APS Industrial
Jackie Thew – Abrasive Media Supplies
Marika Logan – Elgas
Rachael Ashfield – ifm
Stefanie Frawley – Colliers International
Sonia Turner – Scope Systems

Industry Advocacy Award
Finalists
Elizabeth Molyneux – AGL Energy
Hayley Jarick – Supply Chain Sustainability School
Jacquelene Brotherton – Transport Women Australia Limited
Jodie Sainsbury – Kickass Women
Joy Marrocco – AGL
Rose Read – National Waste & Recycling Industry Council
Shay Chalmers – Strategic Engineering
Sonja Malcolm – Sydney Metro

Safety Advocacy Award
Proudly sponsored by BOC Ltd
Finalists
Annastasia Denigan – Cement Australia
Lyndal Denny – Women In Trucking Australia
Maddy Holloway – CITIC Pacific Mining
Nadine Yousef – Sydney Trains
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
Finalists
Clytie Dangar – CRC ORE
Dayle Stevens – AGL Energy
Kylie Jones – Diageo Australia
Marie Varrasso – Officeworks

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

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

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

ARA receives latest industry gender diversity figures

CEO of the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) Caroline Wilkie talks about how far gender diversity has come in the rail industry.

The ARA has just received the results of the 2018-19 Gender Diversity survey of the rail industry. The results are encouraging in that they show an improvement in gender diversity since the last survey, but that there is still more to do to meet national workforce averages.

The ARA last conducted this survey two years ago for the 2016-17 year. Survey data was collected at the organisational level to report on employees throughout rail and its supply chains. All information was de- identified with only high-level aggregated data made available.

The results show:

  • Women make up 27 per cent of the rail workforce, a 6 per cent improvement from 21 per cent reported in 2016-17;
  • Women hold 22 percent of managerial positions, up from 19 per cent in 2016-17 but substantially lower than the national workforce average of 39 per cent;
  • Women make up 21 percent of the full-time workforce – up from 18 per cent in 2016-17, but well below the national full-time workforce average of 38 per cent;
  • Women make up 60 per cent of the part- time workforce – up from 56 per cent in 2016-17 and substantially higher than the national average of 25 per cent;
  • Women make up 25 per cent of the casual workforce – well below the national average of 56 per cent;
  • Women made up 31 per cent of new appointments around the same level as in 2016-17; 28 per cent of all promotions, up from 20 per cent in 2016-17; and 25 per cent of resignations, down from 29 per cent in 2016-17.

From these figures we can conclude that improvements have been made in women’s level of participation in rail overall, in management and full-time work since the last survey, but still lags well below national averages on women’s employment in these categories.

The survey also asked about women’s representation on governing bodies.
Women made up on average 16 per cent respondents of governing bodies. Ten per cent of respondents indicated that they have set targets to increase women’s representation on their governing bodies.

A key issue then is what has caused these improvements.

Eight-six per cent of respondents have formal policies or strategies in place that specifically support gender diversity. Over half of all respondents have specific recruitment policies or strategies to improve the gender balance in their organisation.

Seventy-four per cent of respondents have formal policies for flexible working arrangements, and the availability of flexible workplace arrangements increased considerably for respondents in rail from 2016-17 to 2018-19.

Improving gender diversity in the rail workforce has been an increasing focus of rail companies in recent years. The reasons are varied. For some it is about recognising that it is the right thing to do, and that a workforce should represent the society in engages with, whilst to others is about improving organisational performance.

For many rail operators it is necessary to address the impacts of an ageing and male-dominated workforce in an era of skills shortages and for others it is about being perceived as an “employer of choice”, recruiting and retaining talented employees.

The significant growth that the Australian rail industry is now undergoing provides the perfect opportunity to advance this change, and companies are taking advantage.

In 2017, the ARA developed a Women in Rail Strategy in collaboration with member companies to support gender diversity in the industry. The strategy has four focus areas.

The first is related to the attraction and promotion of women in rail. Under the premise that “You can’t be what you can’t see,” during 2019 ARA gathered and publicised on our social media channels a number of empowering stories of how women and men working in our industry promote gender diversity in their spheres of influence.

The second is improved networks. The ARA has been hosting a number of Women in Rail lunches to member companies and their employees, offering opportunities to hear from experts and industry leaders while offering networking opportunities. These have been well attended and offered women new networks.

The third focus area is retention. The link between the mentoring programs and staff retention has been well established. In 2019, ARA piloted a Women in Rail Mentoring Program, offering mentoring and leadership support to over 40 women working throughout the industry and around the country. The program review received extremely positive feedback, and the program is being held again this year.

The final area was National Benchmarking. The ARA conducted a gender diversity survey in 2016-17 to collate diversity data to provide a greater understanding of the nature of gender diversity in rail.

A full report and summary Report Card is available at ara.net.au

Many rail organisations are at different stages along the diversity and inclusion journey, and while much of the responsibility and initiatives are at an employer level, the ARA is seeking to support its members where it can provide value at a whole of industry level.

The ARA will take the results of the survey and engage with member companies to inform the next iteration of its strategy.

Women

Winners revealed for 2019 Women in Industry Awards

The 2019 Women in Industry Awards took place in Melbourne last Thursday night, celebrating the brilliant, hard-working women helping advance Australian industry.

Attendees at the awards venue at The Park in Albert Park came from a wide variety of sectors such as mining, manufacturing, road and rail, logistics and bulk handling, process infrastructure, and much more.

In total, there were 71 nominees spread across 10 different awards categories, with each one representing excellence in different fields and categories.

The winners and nominees all showed considerable leadership and commitment to their various sectors. The conference and awards show also offered the opportunity to provide insight into issues of gender equality in male-dominated industries.

The full list of winners of the 2019 Women in Industry Awards is as follows:

Social leader of the year  

Penelope Noelle Twemlow, chair and CEO, Women in Power

Rising star of the year

Diana Delac, site engineer, Fulton Hogan

Business development manager of the year

Melissa Waters, marketing, brand and innovation manager, Hebel and Velocity

Mentor of the year

Celeste Ward, process engineer, Stantec Australia

Industry Advocacy Award

Alice Edwards, technical project engineer, The Crane Industry Council of Australia

Safety Advocacy Award

Kristen Sandford, safety manager, CSR Limited

Excellence in engineering

Alana Duncker, senior consultant, Stantec Australia

Excellence in manufacturing

Amber Burdett-Dow, customer experience program manager, BOC

Excellence in road transport

Sondra Kremerskothen, group manager – training, Linfox Australia

Excellence in mining

Jodi Moffitt, manager planning, Roy Hill