Following International Women’s Day in March and the success of another IQA Conference in Newcastle, the IQA continues to recognise the importance of diversity and inclusion in the success of any business or organisation.
As anyone who attended the conference will tell you, getting among our industry colleagues is one of the best decisions we can make to improve personally and professionally. But this experience can be significantly diminished without a diverse crowd with which to mingle.
That’s why Groundwork Plus principal Tegan Smith initiated the Women in Quarrying (WIQ) network in 2014 to encourage a more diverse crowd at IQA events, so everyone can reap the benefits of networking and development.
As WIQ national coordinator, Smith has worked with state coordinators from around Australia, as well as IQA chief executive officer Kylie Fahey, to develop a nationally coordinated strategic plan resulting in a busy 18-month calendar for the enrichment of their beloved extractive industry.
“Each state tries to hold the specific WIQ events at different times so we can support each other,” Smith told Quarry.
“We can share our knowledge and we can share speakers and programs to make sure that each state is not alone, and it is not all on one person to drive that initiative.”
The strategic plan has a strong focus on education, with the IQA developing partnerships with providers in the diversity and inclusion space, including at in-person conferences and online workshops.
Branches will continue to promote and support new people attend events and the WIQ network will be encouraging more women to join existing branch activities.
By coordinating a national schedule, the IQA can ensure a consistent vision for the organisation and its members.
Smith’s vision is that one day the WIQ initiative will no longer be necessary.
“The purpose of the WIQ initiative is to provide a platform for women to connect, share experiences, focus on personal and professional development and enjoy the benefits of the IQA network,” she said.
“Hopefully soon when you walk into an IQA event, the women already in our industry will be better represented because they will be in the room.
“We all have a responsibility to make sure that happens, not just one person.”
This shared responsibility is another reason for having various state coordinators, but the responsibility stretches far wider than that, according to Smith.
“Everyone in the industry has a role to ensure that we are a competitive, attractive and progressive sector,” she said.
“If we are serious about managing skills shortages in our industry and ensuring employee retention, we have to start to acknowledge and promote the importance of not only women in our industry, but all who remain underrepresented, including our younger generation.”
The IQA is supporting a diversity and inclusion initiative that is not just about women.
“It’s about all people,” Smith continued. “Inequity can be far reaching, affecting anyone”.
Increasing awareness of diversity and inclusion can start by having a conversation and being more open to different views.
According to Smith, the influence of men in quarrying is critical and men are helping shape change through the WIQ cause, with incredible support being shown by many male leaders in the quarrying sector.
“Our industry is great at networking and I have to say, the men in our industry, they do it extremely well,” she said.
“The quarrying industry is filled with loyal people who have been part of this sector for many years. While some may move from company to company, their relationships run deep with each other.
“Things like the IQA Conference are opportunities for people to come together that haven’t met for a while but have had long and enduring relationships.
“This is why events like the IQA Conference are so effective and so well represented – because relationships mean a lot to people in our industry. It’s just one of the reasons that I’m still a part of it.
This feature was originally published in the April edition of Quarry.