Why quarrying fares well in inclusion, diversity stakes

With the national dialogue in the past few months having centred around the safety and respect of women in politics and beyond, Damian Christie discusses where he rates the quarrying industry in that mix – and he believes the industry has a a record in which it can be proud.

For the past eight weeks, the mainstream media has turned up the blowtorch on the unsafe, sexist and bullying culture in our national Parliament. It has led to hundreds of thousands of women and men, from all walks of life, participating in rallies across the country, and continues to be an ongoing issue that politicians of all parties must address.

There are several key issues that have arisen out of this coverage – ie the challenge is not just about respect for women but the promotion of safety and the duty of care and obligations of the employer. A latent disrespect for women among workers can unfortunately snowball into bullying, assault and worse. Further, failure to sufficiently address unacceptable behaviours can erode confidence in a business – from within and without.

Most importantly, it is clear all organisations – political, corporate, not-for-profit and charitable – must strive to address the factors that lead to inappropriate behaviour. They have to educate their staff from the outset about the importance of inclusion and diversity – as part of their mandate to build successful, productive organisations.

Quarries and the extractive supply chain have an important role to play in promoting a positive culture that not only actively encourages women to work at their best but also men, the young, the old, and all religions and ethnicities. From my personal observations, the industry is collegial and inclusive, and all workers – female, young, old, cultural – are respected for their talents and knowledge and their positive contributions to quarrying enterprises.

A number of thought leaders within the extractive industry have taken the lead in fostering inclusive, diverse environments. The IQA itself runs outstanding programs and networking opportunities for women and young members, with the view to encouraging them to become more broadly engaged in the Institute and the industry. In particular, members are encouraged to apply for or nominate their peers for the Institute’s awards.

Komatsu Australia is, of course, another thought leader in inclusion and diversity. The company has in the past two years won acclaim, both within the Australian and international extractive industries, for its Say Again? program which seeks to call out inappropriate remarks and sentiments early before they can escalate. Most importantly, it seeks to educate people about their thought processes and behaviours and to promote a positive working culture.

Other producers and suppliers to the industry have devised their own policies to promote inclusion and diversity, including Boral, Holcim Australia, Hanson Australia, the Wagner Group, Caterpillar, Astec, the Weir Group and John Deere, to name a few. And it’s not just through making idle vision statements or undertakings either. Women and men of all backgrounds are important contributors in areas such as communications, logistics, analysis, transport, environment and safety, as well as in executive positions and on boards and committees. They’re not just on the weighbridge, in the site office or in the pit.

The quarrying industry is working hard to provide a safe, inclusive, diverse and collegial industry. Certainly, there is an extraordinary amount of work to still do to promote equal opportunities, encourage people of all demographics to pursue rewarding and productive careers, and stamp out age-old, inappropriate attitudes more broadly in society. However, I think the extractive industry can be proud of its progress in recent years while still aspiring to do more in the decade ahead.

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