In an industry where women comprise just 13 percent of the total workforce, Fortescue Metals Group (Fortescue) is leading the charge to make inroads to the diversity gap.

Fortescue was acknowledged for its commitment to diversity by taking out the AWRA – Australian Women in Resource Alliance category at the AMMA Industry Awards last month.

The company’s commitment to change in the most male-dominated industry in Australia is outlined by its belief the sector has a responsibility to ensure as many women as possible have an opportunity to participate and make a strong contribution to Australia’s resources and energy sector.

By providing women with sustainable career opportunities which has a positive ripple effect on the community, Fortescue’s approach is far removed from the outdated way of thinking when it comes to the challenge of diversity.

“Fortescue don’t simply implement ‘tick the box’ initiatives to meet a quota,” AMMA Director Industry Services Tara Diamond said.

“Instead, they have meaningful and practical policies such as flexible working arrangements, child care support and career development and training opportunities that support women at work.”

“This approach is what fosters a culture that embraces diversity and champions it throughout the workplace.”

Fortescue’s diversity plan, which showcased the initiatives worthy of an AMMA Industry Award, was developed following business-wide consultation sessions with over 250 employees.

It focussed on the strengths and opportunities to further strengthen diversity.

Measurable diversity objectives were identified and developed around five key themes, zeroing in on practical ways to support women in the workforce.

The themes centred on continuing to increase the female participation rate, building talent pools, creating a workplace supportive of diversity, providing childcare options so families can balance work and family responsibilities, and, supporting and promoting opportunities for aspiring female leaders.

“It is pleasing to see resource employers such as Fortescue making great strides in introducing and transforming policies and practices to help increase diversity,” Ms Diamond said.

“Once again, we congratulate Fortescue on their diversity program and hope the industry can continue to work towards ultimately achieving AWRA’s goal of women’s workforce participation reaching 25 percent by 2020.”

Fortescue Chief Executive Officer, Mr Nev Power said the company was very proud to be recognised for its commitment to building a diverse workplace by receiving the Australian Women in Resources Alliance (AWRA) award.

“We are focussed on providing practical solutions to ensure women can grow professionally and have the support and flexibility to have a career and family. We want to make a real difference by creating a welcoming, supportive and encouraging environment for women,” Mr Power said.

Fortescue introduces family room to help work-life balance

FORTESCUE has recently opened a facility to help employees handle the balancing act of work and family life.

The ‘Fortescue Family room’ is a new child care facility in the company’s Perth office. This is a free service for employees and is part of a wider diversity plan seeking to help their employees balance their work and family responsibilities.

CEO Nev Power said the development is a way to foster an encouraging environment for diversity.

“We know, and the research confirms this, that stay at home mothers and part time working women offer huge untapped potential for individual businesses and the economy more broadly,” he said.

“Creating a welcoming and encouraging environment for women directly enhances Fortescue’s success by improving its diversity. We want to make real change by providing practical solutions to support women and parents in the workplace.”

Linda O’Farrell, General Manager of Fortescue People, said that the on-site service provides short term care for children of employees.

Ms O’Farrell also said that Fortescue are exploring the various services the crèche can offer, including offering the 24-hour integrated Operations Centre employees night time supervision of their children.

As well as offering the family room, Fortescue also has a networking opportunity for women returning to work called ‘Business Update’. The events are hosted by the CEO and 150 employees have attended the three offered.

“The Business Updates are a great opportunity to talk about how Fortescue is supporting a diverse workforce, while also hearing directly from the community on how we can assist women returning to work,” Mr Power said.

Fortescue also partners with One Tree in Port Hedland to provide family day care units for its Port Hedland based team members.

Fortescue’s female participation rate increased to 17.3 per cent of the workforce at the end of June 2017.