In a recent interview with Mr Bennett, we talked about increasing the participation of women in the resources sector as a way of boosting productivity, innovation and client outcomes. We discussed the benefits of improving diversity across the sector and the progress that is being made by key players such as BHP Billiton.
“Gender balance is a key area of focus for WSP,” says Mr Bennett. “We are committed to providing equal opportunity in the workplace. Having a wide range of perspectives, skills and energies makes us stronger collectively and better informed.
“Ultimately, we’re aiming to provide a richer workplace where the quality of our advice to clients is heightened, as are business outcomes.”
While the resources sector has come a long way to narrowing the gender gap in the past decade, there is still a fair bit of work to do.
“We have set a goal to reach a female representation level of 35 per cent across our resources business by 2021,” says Mr Bennett. “Putting a line in the sand is key to having everyone working towards a common goal.
“To support this target, we’ve also established five gender balance commitments that talk to having women on all shortlists, offering flexible working as a standard business practice, ensuring succession plans are balanced, providing our clients with diverse project teams, and addressing pay parity.
“In addition to this, we’re making sure that gender balance is part of the everyday dialogue we have across all levels of the business. This is how we’re turning up the dial to make changes at the grassroots level. The more we have these conversations, the more we can affect cultural change, and the more our workplace evolves.
It Takes a Village
Mr Bennett cites the collective power of WSP as the reason he loves working for the firm.
He says, “We have an entire community of different people working together to deliver outcomes for our clients across geographical borders. Regardless of gender, our people are empowered to flourish.
“When it comes to transitioning to a more gender-balanced workforce, we will achieve this as a collective. This is a WSP-wide effort and a shared mission.
“Education is a vital step in this process. This is a two-step change. Firstly, we need to attract more females into the sector, which is where our push of STEM careers comes in. Secondly, we need to change the widely-held perception that a career in resources is not for women. That’s a barrier we simply need to remove.
“Organisations such as BHP Billiton are leading the way, having set a 50:50 gender target for 2025. That’s a game-changer for the sector and one that sets the tone for lifting female participation across the board.”
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