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Finally some good news for women in business

Last week I reported on the very disappointing outcomes of the 2008 EOWA Census of women in leadership.  Unless you’ve had your head in the sand or been focused on more pressing issues, you would have seen the Census coverage in all of the newspapers, business mags and practically every website relating to women in business.  In the main, the media has centred around the failure of corporate Australia to bridge the gender divide in leadership ranks.  On the flip side, a handful of articles features interviews with the 4 female CEOs who’ve made it to the top of the ASX200.

I have a feeling, if we dig deep, we can do better than this.  And that we’re doing better across the board than the ASX200 position.  I know you are all busy, but if we all took 5 minutes of our day today to respond to this blog and share a good news story of women succeeding in business, imagine the positive impact this would have.  And our ability to press on when the going gets tough – as it inevitably will – over the next 2 years before another Census is released.

Let me kick off to get the ball rolling.  In response tomy last post, I received a phone call yesterday from a geologist who runs a mining operation at Port Hedland, WA.  Tough part of the world, tough job, tough conditions, tough employment market.  The caller – let’s call him Tony – shared with me the difficulty he’s had staffing the mine site.  The average temperature is 45 degrees plus.  It’s dirty work involving hard manual labor.  It’s in a completely remote and isolated location.  As a result, historically only men have applied for and been offered these sorts of jobs.  And as you might predict, staff turnover is a big issue because few people can stick it out in this sort of gig for very long.

What Tony observed is that the blokes that did hang around were the ones who had partners – a girlfriend or wife – who were making sure they were organized for work, turned up on time and stuck around long enough to make something of the job.  So he had an idea to start recruiting these women at the site as well.

At first there was skepticism about whether the women would be able to cope with the work conditions and hard yakka the jobs entailed.  But before long it was obvious they weren’t only coping, they were thriving.  Soon women were promoted to leadership roles and the productivity of the entire operation lifted.  Thereafter, Tony decided that he would deliberately seek out more women to fill  new and vacated positions.  The result is that the mine site is now 100% staffed with women – hardly what you’d expect in the mining industry and hardly what the recruitment strategists said would work.  But Tony couldn’t be happier – he says the mine site has never run more smoothly and he cites the women as his key to success.  His only question is why more companies aren’t doing the same.

Now I reckon there must be hundreds of these sorts of stories in our network.  What do you know about that you could share with the rest of us?

Post your comments here and let’s share the good news!

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