Abigroup Diversity Forum

Written on the 14 March 2012

Last Thursday I had the honour of representing the Minister for Women's Affairs, Mary Wooldridge, with an address to the Abigroup diversity forum. Abigroup works within the construction and engineering sector -- historically a male-dominated industry. Abigroup has taken a leadership role in recognising the importance of encouraging greater diversity in their workforce and addressing issues such as gender inequity and industrial segregation. The work that Abigroup is undertaking in this area was particularly relevant last Thursday, which was International Women's Day. I know that many people in this chamber attended many different functions and events in celebration of International Women's Day, as was highlighted by Mrs Coote.


In Australia women make up just over half the population and around 45 per cent of the labour force. However, there still remain many barriers for women to take on leadership and senior executive roles. In saying that, I do not believe that increasing participation at that level should be done by quotas. I am a firm believer that women should attain those roles by merit and capacity. There are many examples of women in Australia who have taken on corporate responsibilities and at times combined that with family responsibilities. Those women should be commended for the choices they have made and for their contribution to Australian businesses and organisations -- no matter the size or industry sector.


To ensure that there are enough women to take on leadership and executive roles, businesses of all sizes in all sectors should hire more women, ensure workplace processes support their retention and development, and promote and mentor women in their careers.


Abigroup is an example of an organisation undertaking this progressive stance and should be commended for its leadership in doing so.

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