Farstad Shipping has been awarded an AWRA Recognised ‘Silver’ stamp in Australia’s first resource industry-specific endorsement of gender diversity capability.

DESPITE women occupying an estimated two percent of seafaring roles worldwide, Farstad Shipping is leading the charge to improve attraction and retention of females in its non-traditional roles.

The maritime services company is now the proud bearer of an Australian Women in Resources Alliance (AWRA) Recognised ‘Silver’ stamp following completion of the national resource industry’s first assessment program based on a rigorous model of gender diversity capability.

Farstad Shipping managing director Wayne Aitken saw participation in AWRA Recognised as an important step in improving gender diversity within the company’s 650-strong workforce.
“We are in a sector of the offshore industry that is traditionally less attractive to women,” says Aitken.

“Certainly within our Australian office-based workforce we have a strong overall gender split with 45 – 50% of positions occupied by women. But we are trying to move more women into non-traditional operational and senior management roles, and to do that we have to build our reputation as an employer of choice.”

Through the AWRA Recognised program, facilitated by resource industry employer group AMMA, Farstad had its workplace policies, procedures and practices formally assessed against best practice management of workplace gender diversity.

“The program recognises organisations at different stages of their journey with a bronze, silver, gold or platinum stamp that can be used in recruitment campaigns and internal communication,” says AMMA executive director Tara Diamond.

“Farstad Shipping received a silver rating, which means that like many small-to-medium sized organisations they are at the ‘aware and building’ stage of their diversity journey. They understand the business case and have the beginnings of an effective diversity program to truly benefit from a greater proportion of women throughout the organisation.”

During the assessment, Farstad Shipping employees including seagoing and shore-based staff and senior management were interviewed across a range of dimensions including cultural integration and acceptance, vision, and management of existing diversity policies.

“We have always had good paid maternity leave policies and programs to assist women to return to the workplace after maternity leave,” says Aitken.

“We also offer flexible working arrangements for all staff and make it clear during recruitment that we are an equal opportunity employer.”

“Although we struggle to attract female applicants to seagoing roles, we do support learning and development, and encourage our female staff to succeed. We work hard to ensure there is no glass ceiling on our ships.”

Importantly, AWRA Recognised participants are provided with information on how to improve their policies and practices and introduce proven initiatives that will see their organisation flourish through greater gender diversity.
“Our aim is to take the recommendations from the program and incorporate workforce diversity into our global brand,” says Aitken.

“We are certainly looking at all areas because over the next 12 months, we’re going for the AWRA Recognised ‘Gold’.”

Want your organisation to be ‘AWRA Recognised’ for its gender diversity capability? Contact Elspeth Meredith at [email protected]. Read more about Farstad’s AWRA Recognised journey in the Autumn 2014 issue of Resource People, hitting AMMA member desks mid-February 2014.