New recruits powering gender diversity at Tomago
During the early years of operation, Tomago Aluminium’s workforce consisted largely of men. Today, Tomago is helping to break some of the stereotypes around women in heavy-industry roles, bringing employee conditions in line with the changing face of its workforce.
In 2018, more than 20% of new recruits at Tomago Aluminium were female.
Currently females make up around 8% of Tomago’s 1000-strong workforce, a sharp rise from three years ago when the figure sat around 4%.
While that may seem like a small percentage, it means nearly every crew on site contains at least one female member.
The influx has led to a number of changes aimed at retaining female employees including improved change room facilities and general amenities in the operations areas, bringing parental leave standards for operators and trades in line with staff and adapting roles so that whatever stage of pregnancy women can still work – with medical advice.
Two years ago, Tomago Aluminium improved paid parental leave for all staff, but only recently opened up the same conditions to its operator and trade group. Non-primary carers are also offered the option to take up to an extended two weeks paid leave when their child is born.
“We want to remain at the forefront of industry conditions and be known as an inclusive workplace,” Simon said.
“We launched a consultative group aimed at improving both the female working environment and fostering overall inclusion and diversity.”
Providing safe work options for pregnant operators and flexible return to work options remains a focus, he said.
“It could mean working reduced hours or reducing operational task or moving into a other supporting roles – all of which maintain the worker’s normal rates of pay. It depends on the individual pregnancy and their doctor’s advice.”
Tomago management’s priority has been finding the right combination of support that will help attract and retain female staff including flexible hours, job-share arrangements and accommodating childcare needs.
“From a historical perspective, the majority of our roles were in what was generally considered a male occupation,” Simon said.
“But times have changed and as a business we need to remain relevant, with policies reflective of our workforce. We realise there will be challenges for parents to find childcare with the hours of coverage and the needs of shift work, so we are looking into how we can structure it to ensure the primary carer can still have a work life balance when returning to work.”
This could include starting a conversation with local providers and neighbouring businesses, he said.
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