The Operations sector has historically been characterised by a variety of gender imbalances related to women’s poor workforce participation, inflexible work arrangements, and widening participation gaps at the manager-level. These barriers perpetuate problematic patterns that we may write off as ‘just the way it is’, but actually negatively affect all genders.

Investing in measures that counter stereotypical role models in gender segregated fields and aim to foster more inclusive work environments is effective in interrogating, challenging and addressing these patterns. Creating greater equality in non-traditional and/or male-dominated industries provides more opportunities for women to gain diverse employment, increase their earning potential and improve business productivity by increasing the breadth of available talent and skills.

Earlier this year, we teamed up with the Victorian Government Office for Women (OFW) in the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing and set out to explore the initiatives and projects NAWO members within the manufacturing and energy sectors were employing to overcome barriers to better gender inclusion and bridge the participation gap. We invited our members to share their stories of inclusion with us and we’re pleased to be able to share our findings with you.

This partnership with the OFW and case study series comprised a deep dive with Adbri, BlueScope Steel, DuluxGroup, Mondelēz, and Viva Energy into the following topic areas:

  • Flexible and Family Friendly Shifts
  • Initiatives that effectively attract women into operations
  • Leveraging diversity for stronger and more innovative teams
  • Psychological safety as key to retaining (gender) diverse talent
  • Facilities and amenities that reflect the diversity of our teams
  • Job sharing in senior roles within operations

Our findings have been fascinating – our members are undertaking incredible work to attract a gender diverse to their teams and create inclusive environments and policy frameworks to retain them. We found that initiatives to attract more women into an organisation often had a positive ripple effect by prompting companies to look at other areas of business to accommodate their diverse talent. This lead to improvements in facilities and amenities (and some amazing innovation!), a strong focus on psychological safety, interrogating the ways in which teams worked and introducing more flexible work arrangements. Not only did these members diversify their teams, but they also changed the way they worked, to the benefit of all their staff. Flexible work shifts drove absenteeism down; changing the way particular physical tasks were undertaken made it safer for everyone and reduced the potential for injuries.

We’ll be publishing our NAWO x Case Studies on a weekly basis – now, you can the inspiring journeys towards greater diversity and inclusion of Viva Energy and DuluxGroup:

Thank you to all our participating members:

Thank you to our partner – the Office for Women in the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing  for supporting us in this enlightening and inspiring endeavour.