The resources sector in Western Australia is well aware of the benefits of employing and retaining a diverse workforce. With ongoing demands for skilled labour, the future growth of the industry will rely on it's ability to attract and retain a diverse range of staff. To meet these demands, for a number of years industry has focused on employing and training people from traditionally under-represented sectors of the workforce, in particular, women and Indigenous Australians. In 2011, the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia (CME) recognised a need for baseline data on the participation of women and Indigenous Australians in the resources sector workforce. CME conducted the first Diversity in Resources Survey in November 2011 to obtain this information. It has guided industry-wide policies and strategies since then. The survey has been repeated in 2013 to evaluate whether these policies have had an impact on the proportion of women and Indigenous Australians working in the industry. The inaugural survey conducted in 2011 saw 26 CME member companies submit data. In 2013 the number of participating CME members increased substantially to 50 highlighting the growing importance of workforce diversity to the resources sector. The 2013 survey found that:

  • 19 per cent of the Western Australian resources sector workforce are female. This proportion is slightly lower than the 22 per cent obtained in the 2011 survey, but higher than the Australian Bureau of Statistics' estimate of 17 per cent, and about the same as the Workplace Gender Equality Agency's estimate of 20 per cent. These data indicate that little has changed over the last two years and given that women make up 43 per cent of the total Western Australian workforce, there remains great potential for the resources sector to tap into this segment of the population.
  • 4.2 per cent of the Western Australian resources sector workforce are Indigenous Australians. This figure has also remained unchanged from 2011. As Indigenous Australians make up only 1.6 per cent of the total Western Australian workforce, the survey highlights the positive commitment made by Western Australian resources sector companies to employing Indigenous Australians.
  • 24 per cent of Indigenous Australians working in the resources sector are female.
  • 70 per cent of employees working on a part-time/casual basis are female. The provision of more part-time work may encourage more women into the industry

While there has been little change in the representation of women and Indigenous Australians in the resource sector workforce over the last two years, it is recognised that it takes time for workplace policies and strategies to show an effect on the overall structure of the workforce. There have been, however, subtle changes in the composition of the workforce, particularly in the distribution of occupations in the industry. These changes may partially be as a result of a change in the focus of the industry, from construction work to an operations phase. It is recommended that companies in the resources sector continue to implement and measure strategies to encourage women and Indigenous Australians to work in the industry. The benefits of having a diverse and inclusive workforce will not only be seen in the individual companies, but in a strong and vibrant industry for years to come. It is promising that two-thirds of women in the industry returned to work in the industry following the birth of a child, and the provision of more part-time/casual employment and childcare support may further encourage women wishing to work to the industry. Employing Indigenous Australians who live close to operations has been a successful strategy for resources sector companies, strengthening local communities and Indigenous opportunities as well.

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