As we approach International Women’s Day 2024, we find ourselves pulled in two different directions here at COgear. Proudly sponsoring the Excellence in Diversity Programs and Performance category at the Women in Mining and Resource Queensland awards event, we're excited about the upcoming celebrations and the chance to recognise the strides made in diversity and inclusion. Yet, alongside this excitement, there's a growing sense of urgency to move beyond symbolic gestures towards tangible change.

One direction pulls towards the glitz and glamour of awards ceremonies and celebrations. It's a chance to recognise the strides made in diversity and inclusion, to learn from others, and to draw inspiration from the achievements of women, men, and companies in various industries.

On the other hand, there's a realisation that surface-level acknowledgments, like cupcakes and morning teas, may conceal deeper issues. While these gestures may provide temporary upliftment, they often mask the systemic challenges that persist.

At COgear, we embrace both perspectives. We value the opportunity to celebrate progress and showcase the strides made in creating inclusive work environments. Yet, we also recognise the need to move beyond token gestures towards meaningful action.

Consider, Mineral Resources Executive, whose tenure as BMC Asset President shed light on a concerning observation: women weren't taking water back to their trucks after crib breaks, unlike most men. When asked, women explained that they refrained from drinking water during the day because there were no nearby bathroom options on the circuit. Stopping, then driving to a bathroom in a light vehicle would disrupt circuit efficiency and impact the crew's productivity targets. Once the problem was known, the solution was easy: portable toilets were made a requirement on every mining circuit.

Another example of a company that stands behind progress for women is Fortescue, as they’ve reached gender equality at a board level.

At COgear we are dedicated to advancing women’s workwear. Our latest product, the Nora jacket and vest extension, is a game-changer in the industry. This versatile jacket not only provides comfort but also accommodates maternity needs, a significant step forward in Australian workwear. We're proud to be the first brand in Australia offering a high-visibility maternity jacket and vest option, achieved through advocating for changes to the AS/NZS standards.

However, what is surprising is the reluctance from mining companies to include products like the Nora Jacket on their uniform list. In today’s progressive landscape, shouldn't offering suitable workwear for women be standard? Considering the potential operational delays from not attracting or retaining the right talent, the cost argument seems weak. Adding a suitable workwear item to the uniform list doesn't cost anything. When employees choose it, it's probably cheaper than what's spent on cupcakes for an International Women's Day event. But, more importantly, it sends a welcoming message to new people thinking of joining the industry.

As we approach International Women’s Day 2024, let us not only acknowledge the progress made but also recommit ourselves to the journey ahead. Rather than focus only on the day, let’s use it as an opportunity to uplift spirits and then, next Monday, push for more meaningful work to help women be comfortable at work and continue to create lasting change. Maybe that’s just adding the COgear Nora jacket and extension piece to your uniform list.

This is your reminder to champion diversity, inclusion, and innovation in the workplace, not just on International Women's Day, but every day.