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Coates, John Holland And BHP Come Together To Champion Women In Sport And Industry

Coates, Australia’s leading equipment hire and solutions provider, along with John Holland and BHP, have come together to champion female representation in sport and heavy industry.

All three industry-leading organisations are sponsors of the AFLW and are making a concerted push to encourage more female representation within their traditionally male-dominated industries.

“At Coates we’re enacting a number of initiatives to improve female participation rates in our organisation across all key job groups. We’ve increased representation of women in our nationwide workforce from 18.4 per cent in FY21 to 22.2 per cent (as of October 31, 2023), and in management roles from 16 per cent to 22 per cent over the same period,” said Elise Manns, Executive General Manager - People & Safety, Coates. “But we know more needs to be done, as do our customers at John Holland and BHP. Only through understanding the challenges women face – both in sport and in the workplace – can we start to identify how we can continue to remove the barriers and even the playing field for women.”

As part of the initiative, Coates took part in an exclusive training session with AFLW star Ebony Rose Antonio in Perth. The aim of the session was to celebrate the rise in the percentage of women in sport and heavy industry, and to outline what more needs to be done to ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to thrive in their career. Local employees from Coates were introduced to Fremantle Dockers AFLW star Antonio, who delivered insights into what it takes to be a female athlete and role model while juggling her role as a tradie off the field. Attendees also took part in a rigorous training session based on what AFLW athletes undertake, as well as a friendly competition featuring 20-minute round-robin games.

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“I've always worked hard, whether that's been on field or off field, especially being an apprentice and being a female in a male dominated area, I've always had to work hard and prove myself to my male counterparts,” said Antonio. “I love the fact that I get to be a role model for younger girls to look up to and to inspire, as I never had that opportunity when I was a young girl.”

With a target to reach 25 per cent female participation in both managerial positions and across the company by 2025, Coates has an established flexible working policy and in 2021 launched the Leadership, Excellence and Performance Program (LEAP) designed to identify and develop high-performing future female leaders.

John Holland, naming partner of the innovative Workplay platform for the AFLW – which connects female athletes in the sport directly to flexible employment, education and career development opportunities – has welcomed 18 AFLW players into its ranks.

The players come from almost a dozen different clubs and work in diverse and flexible roles across John Holland, from building and infrastructure projects to corporate functions.

“Creating meaningful change for women in construction is a big task, and there’s a long road ahead of us, but coming together as one united team provides a variety of different career pathways for athletes. Staring into the issues around flexible working and equity and really hitting that head-on will benefit all our industries. We also know that sharing the journey through storytelling is critical to our success,” said Bronte Enright, Strategic Talent Programs Manager, John Holland.

“It’s so important to champion women in industry and in sport,” said Elisa Nerone, Vice President Human Resources, BHP.

“We’ve seen the benefits for BHP in working to achieve gender balance across our global workforce, and that’s why we are partnering with others to create new pathways and increase female participation. It's exciting to see organisations like the AFL, Coates, John Holland and BHP come together with a united voice and shared ambition to help girls and women across Australia pursue new opportunities and thrive in their chosen careers.”

Watch highlights of the training session here.


Coates, part of Seven Group Holdings (ASX: SVW), is Australia’s leading equipment hire and solutions provider, operating across a range of markets including engineering, mining and resources, infrastructure, manufacturing, construction, agriculture and major events. Coates celebrates 138 years of commitment to supporting their customers who help build Australia. With a national footprint of over 145 branches and 2,000 highly skilled employees, Coates provides expert equipment solutions for nearly 16,000 customers. This includes end-to-end solutions for temporary works, traffic management, water management, industrial shutdowns, maintenance, power and HVAC, training services and events.

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