Roads Review: Encouraging diversity

This month, we asked the industry’s decision-makers, ‘What is the industry doing to encourage greater diversity across the sector?’

Sarah Marshall, Executive General Manager, People, Safety and Sustainability – Fulton Hogan

Things are certainly changing and there seems to be a real desire to do better. At Fulton Hogan we’re doing a number of things to drive greater diversity one of which is our partnership with Construction Industry Culture Taskforce for the 5 day working week trial at our Brunt Road Project.  The initiative aims to provide more time for life, better wellbeing and greater diversity will result from reduced flexible working hours for individuals working on our project sites.  We are also excited to be entering our fourth consecutive year of our partnership with the Richmond AFLW program as we continue to provide alternative career pathways for women into our industry.

Lise Sperling,

Lise Sperling​, Executive Director, Head of Federal Advocacy and Government Relations – The Australian Flexible Pavement Association

The Australian Flexible Pavement Association (AfPA) firmly embraces and encourages diversity and inclusion – committed to inspire, support and engage our current and future workforce about our industry and associated opportunities for all people. It is from an extensive range of skills, expertise and experience that we will enrich the ideas and approaches to the delivery and maintenance our most valuable essential asset, our roads. AfPA is proactively creating the opportunities for conversations to understand the issues and barriers in our workforce to encourage greater diversity and inclusion. Hearing directly from stakeholders is informing a range of industry-specific initiatives and strategies both underway and planned – from targeted sessions and training, through to broader industry-wide events. The AfPA Industry D&I Roadmap is currently being finalised, as developed by and for our industry to encourage diversity and inclusion. We acknowledge that change of this scale takes time, and we are proud that our industry is openly sharing learnings and are a leading employment industry of choice that embraces all.

Megan Bartolo, Apprentice – Alex Fraser

This is only my second year in the industry but in that time, I’ve noticed more and more women in operational roles. While there’s still a long way to go, I’m a good example of the kinds of opportunities that are opening up for women in the construction industry. I joined Alex Fraser in early 2022 as Workshop Administrator. At the start of 2023 I was supported to take on an apprenticeship in Metal Fabrication (Boilermaker). I’m really enjoying the challenge and feel very well supported by my male and female colleagues to succeed.

Steve Betinsky, General Manager, Employment & Enterprises – OC Connections

We’re seeing more meaningful employment opportunities opening up for people living with disability across the roads and infrastructure sector. These include direct employment through either contract labour assignments or ongoing assisted employment where work can be co-designed through a strengths-based approach to tailor roles to people’s abilities, with supports provided to the employee by organisations such as ours at no cost to the employer. We’re also seeing increased diversity in supply chains where social enterprises have the opportunity to compete and provide goods and services, such as our OC Eco T-Top Bollards, which creates further indirect employment for a greater diversity of people who may also be experiencing barriers to mainstream employment.

Kylie Adeniyi, Manager, Social Value – Major Road Projects Victoria

Addressing the historical lack of diversity across Victoria’s civil construction industry is a key business priority for Major Road Projects Victoria (MRPV). Through our innovative Program Delivery Approach (PDA), MRPV works closely with our construction partners to ensure public infrastructure expenditure is leveraged for greater social value and inclusion outcomes. Introduced in 2019, the PDA approach is a collaborative procurement model that aims to get the best value for money outcomes for our projects, including through facilitating increased employment opportunities for traditionally marginalised groups as well as sustainable business opportunities for social benefit suppliers across MRPV’s supply chain. Driven by state government policies, such as Victoria’s Social Procurement Framework, the PDA model has allowed MRPV to increase spend with social enterprises and Aboriginal businesses by over 600 per cent since 2019. These organisations are known to hire more diverse teams and to reinvest profits back into their local communities. MRPV is proud to play our part in creating a more sustainable and diverse civil construction industry and is committed to continuing that work with our PDA construction partners.

This feature first appeared in Roads & Infrastructure.

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