Komatsu Australia managing director Sean Taylor has presented a webinar about his company’s Say Again? campaign to a global network of Institute of Quarrying branches.
The Say Again? campaign encourages workplace inclusion and diversity, and aims to raise conscious awareness of the language and ideas that could affect team building.
Sean Taylor received the prestigious 2020 IQ Caernarfon Award earlier this year for the campaign, and presented a webinar to Institute of Quarrying branches across the globe on 9 November.
“Inclusion and diversity has always been important but I would suggest today it’s more critical than ever,” Taylor said at the Say Again? webinar.
“There are many dimensions [to inclusion and diversity] and each of those dimensions require proactive actions in their own right.”
Taylor advocated the need for more female representation in industrial companies to achieve greater gender diversity.
“The impact will simply be huge,” he said. “Surely we can engage 50 per cent of the population better.
“Some of the qualities women can bring to the table will in turn help us have a better conversation on the other dimensions and broader topics of inclusion and diversity as well.”
According to Taylor, gender diversity has not progressed but organisations like Male Champions of Change Australia are encouraging company leaders to discuss men’s roles regarding gender equality in industrial workforces.
“Leaders must see the change is important and drive that change,” Taylor said. “It’s the most critical point of my presentation. Unfortunately it hasn’t progressed – indeed, we’ve gone a little bit backwards if anything.
“Male Champions of Change in Australia … works with influential leaders to redefine men’s roles in acting on gender equality. So, it activates peer groups of male leaders and supports them to step up beside women and drive the adoption of actions across the private sector and government.”
Taylor encouraged workplaces to innovate to solve people-related issues rather than just technology ones.
“We’ve got a great opportunity … to influence the entire construction value chain and that’s really exciting. It recognises the fact that if we keep approaching this issue in the same way we will continue to have no impact,” he said.
Building an innovative culture can also lead to improvements surrounding workplace diversity, Taylor said.
“Diversity is a key platform, a key tool to build an innovative culture,” he said.
Taylor believes that factoring in diversity will improve a workplace’s innovation, allowing women to take on traditionally male-dominated roles.
“Fairness, frankly, should be enough but it hasn’t been so an innovative culture directly drives business results and even survival.”
“For those not treated fairly it isn’t fun at all,” Taylor added. “It can be very toxic.”
According to Taylor, the construction and mining sectors have the least amount of female participation out of all Australian industries.
“We’re not moving forward, indeed we’re standing still,” he said.
“We just need to understand that a culture of diversity and inclusion is actually as important as improving things like productivity and or even bottom line or even safety.”
Taylor encouraged industrial workplaces to bend the status quo by targeting 30 to 50 per cent female employment, while also acknowledging that the “old guard” of companies faces fast-approaching competition through technological and productivity innovation.
“We have to promote our businesses in a better way. It’s equally important for not just attracting good young women these days but young men as well,”
“I think our construction industry is exciting and cool but we haven’t done a good job in convincing the next generation and this time around there’s a lot more competition.
“I hear a lot that ‘women have to be able to adapt to the male workshop culture’. I am sorry but I just cannot accept that. The same men in the workshop seem to be able to manage just fine in every other part of their lives where they interact with 50 per cent of the population.”
Taylor reflected on how women in the workplace have been forced to build “an armour” for unconscious passing comments.
“Everyday sexism is a real pervasive threat to a diverse and inclusive culture,” he said.
“Most of the time men are not aware that they have said something hurtful or maybe disrespectful, while at the other end of the spectrum comments may well be designed to be hurtful or put somebody down and the actions when that happen are quite different obviously and have to be treated harshly.
“The Say Again? is a campaign to not let comments potentially slip through unchallenged. In the case of everyday sexism, we particularly want men to call out their own comments or other men’s comments so women don’t have to. Let’s step up.”
The Caernarfon Award is presented by the International Presidents of the Institutes of Quarrying to a person they deem has delivered a presentation that advances the extractive industry, at either a branch or a conference level.