Women in trade celebrated

IWD (Demo)

One of Australia biggest resources companies has seen a 15 per cent improvement in performance as a result of hiring more women, an International Women’s Day event heard today.

Northern Adelaide’s leading technical and trade high school, St Patrick’s Technical College, hosted employers, government, training groups and industry at a special International Women’s Day assembly this morning.

Speaking at the event, BHP’s Stephen Johnson said the company was working towards the goal of 50/50 gender equality workforce by 2025 because it made good business sense.

Guest speakers for International Women's Day at St Patrick's Technical College.
Guest speakers for International Women’s Day at St Patrick’s Technical College.

Mr Johnson said across the world, BHP’s top ten inclusive sites performed better than those who were not actively recruiting female workers. He said the sites with more women were safer, more productive and more innovative – which had real, positive business outcomes for the company.

“It’s about making inroads, it’s not about preferential treatment,’’ Mr Johnson said.

Also speaking at the event with Mr Johnson were BHP Olympic Dam employees Rebecca Hicks, Planner Work Management, Ross Vickers, Specialist Apprentices, and apprentice Carmen Bivone along with StPatsTech teacher Linda Burton.

Mr Vickers said of the last three apprentice intakes for Olympic Dam mine, 60 per cent of the apprentices were females. StPatsTech College student Laura Oakley began her apprenticeship at Olympic Dam last year.

“The message to the guys out there is you’ve got to step it up because it’s becoming very even,’’ Mr Vickers said.

He said there are employment opportunities as heavy diesel mechanics, electrical, metals and engineering and auto-electricians.

In 2016, BHP saw a global increase of 2.9 per cent of women in its workforce bringing the total number of women in BHP’s worldwide workforce to 20 per cent.

Ms Burton, who is an electrician and runs her own contracting business as well as teaching students at StPatsTech, told the gathering there was a high level of sexism in her industry when she began her apprenticeship.

“Of the 450 apprentices, there was just two girls and I was quite appalled at the time by the attitude of the men there,’’ Ms Burton said.

Linda Burton speaking during the event.
Linda Burton speaking during the event.

“But on the other side to that, there has been some really supportive people. I have always thought, if you can do the job you can earn the respect of other people around you.’’

Ms Burton said she worked harder, studied harder and pushed herself more to prove herself in her industry and that drive to succeed often made women leaders in their industry.

She said equality to her meant the best skilled, most qualified person for the job got the work no matter their sex.

“I want to know I got the job because I deserved it. You can call me a tradesman because I’ve earnt that title. And one more thing I wanted to say, if you don’t know why International Women’s Day is necessary, then it is necessary.’’

Ms Burton said women were still fighting for equal pay and to be taken seriously in workshops across the country.