Two Programmed female tradies

As diversity in the workplace becomes a hot topic within many skilled trade businesses we caught up with Mark Rademaker, Programmed General Manager of Human Resources (Maintenance and Facility Management) and a member of the Tradeswomen Australia Strategy Council to find out how they are approaching diversity within their business and look at the success they have seen over the past 8 years.

In 2011 the Programmed board and executive team made a clear business decision to drive diversity initiatives and targets within their business units. Focusing on pay equity and job access across leadership, operations and trades roles Programmed aimed to create a diverse and inclusive workforce, which reflects the communities we all live and work in.

Diversity and inclusion does not come without its challenges, across Australia only 3% of skilled trade roles are taken up by women so when Programmed’s Maintenance and Facility Management businesses set a target of a goal that 50% of all new apprentice hires should be female a review of role promotion, internal policies and procedures, and culture took place and targets focused on driving culture change happened. “We’ve learned the importance of showing women that applying for a trade role, or a leadership position, is not just accepted but actively encouraged, and we do this through sharing our success stories, and creating opportunities for their career advancement. Our relationships with partners such as Tradeswomen Australia help us to support women inside our business, and our potential candidates.”  Says Mark when reflecting on the journey so far.

As with all cultural change that takes place within a business, it doesn’t happen overnight. Throughout their diversity journey, they’ve learnt the value of taking small steps towards a big goal to help them achieve success. This has seen them really embed a sustainable change. “Taking small measurable steps can lead to long-lasting changes within a business.”

Programmed have seen significant changes in retention and workplace culture. As they begin to understand the progress they’ve made and areas they need to continue to focus on, reporting on the data has been a catalyst for change. As an example, they now report on the promotion of women in our business. “Over the past three years, we have experienced a 66% increase in the number of women being promoted. In addition, the number of women in senior leadership has increased by 68%.”

Programmed tradie working in ceiling

The focus on increasing diversity has also seen progress in the terminology used within the business with references to ‘foreman’ in our advertising and payroll information to ‘foreperson’. “This change has influenced the way we speak about people, and it’s created awareness regarding the use of pronouns”

This level of change would not be possible without strong leadership. “At Programmed we’ve been lucky to have support for our programs come from all levels, but especially from our leadership team.” Say Mark “It’s really important to have all initiatives, like diversity promotion, lead from the top. Our Managing Director Glenn Thompson has always worked hard to promote our gender equity initiatives, and the team’s authentic leadership in this area has helped build engagement throughout the business”

The unique approach Programmed use to promote diversity across all areas of their businesses to ensure it is not only embedded but seen as a priority for all employees. From the promotion of STEM subjects and engaging with primary and secondary schools across Australia through to having senior leaders, as well as others across our business, actively involved in driving this change both in the workplace and wider community. Approaching diversity from not only a business but a whole of community perspective has ensured measurable and tangible results across Programmed.

Angela Gaylard
Angela Gaylard
Tradeswomen Australia