We recently spoke to BGC Contracting's Communities & Diversity Manager Sarah Eatough about how she is facilitating greater diversity across the business and in the community.

The BGC Contracting team at the Gold Industry Group's Women in Gold event

Sarah, why are you such a passionate advocate for diversity? 

I believe that by embracing differences we fuel innovation and enable more informed decision-making. I believe diversity brings real competitive advantage and is therefore a commercial imperative. Diversity helps maximise business value and performance, enhance reputation, and address stakeholder expectations. In turn, this results in both increased access to business opportunities and expands the available talent pool. This is central to why I am passionate about, and committed to, increasing diversity and inclusion in our workplace.

My role is to create lasting business value within a ‘one-team’ culture, by facilitating greater diversity across BGC Contracting and developing genuine relationships with local and Indigenous communities.

What are BGC Contracting’s gender diversity objectives?

For BGC Contracting to truly live our vision and values we must attract, develop and retain a high-quality, diverse workforce. We believe that part of transforming our culture involves significantly improving the diversity across our core business. 

For example, we have committed to have women lead 20% of our projects and operations and 25% of our ‘win work’ teams within the next five years. With the current the average female participation in construction companies currently at 12% and mining companies at 16%, these targets would position us as a leader in this area. To achieve these targets we are implementing a number of diversity policies and programmes. We want all of our people to know that there is no limitation to reaching their career potential within BGC Contracting.

Tell me more about the policies and programmes being implemented and how they will support women and men to achieve these targets? 

We are implementing a number of key initiatives across our business. Initiatives already commenced include a review of our the recruitment processes to ensure any structural barriers to participation for people of diverse backgrounds are eliminated; providing senior leaders with bias awareness training to understand the impact of unconscious bias on decision making; implementation of our Family and Domestic Violence Policy; and a number of high potential female leaders participating in both internal and external leadership programs including the 'Chief Executive Women Leadership Program'. 

We hope these initiatives attract more women to work for BGC Contracting, and help us retain and develop our female employees to their highest potential. 

What part do you play in achieving these?

Diversity as an integral part of our core business strategy and organisation transformation and I am directly accountable to our Executive team to lead the way.  

Our diversity strategy is long term and takes into account the ups and downs of economic cycles. That said, I am expected to challenge the status quo and positively disrupt ‘business as usual’ to ensure we create the change we want.  

What do you think is the most important initiative for BGC Contracting to master?

Transforming our culture is critical to everything else we do. We need a ‘one team' culture where we achieve greater outcomes together, where individuals are valued and can contribute, regardless of their differences. We also recognise where differences make us even better together. 

Whilst have already commenced our cultural transformation, we acknowledge this a journey of a thousand steps. 

Tell me more about the ‘a thousand steps’ transformation?

We are inspired by our vision “To transform tomorrow”. We are undertaking an organisation wide transformation which leaves no stone unturned to diversify our business, creating a unique ‘one-team’ organisational culture. Our change plan is evolutionary and involves a coordinated suite of steps and activities and this is no different in the diversity space. We know we have a long way to go and we have a strategic plan to get there. We are realistic about time frames but determined to maintain momentum by taking small steps. We are making great progress, celebrating small wins along the way while continuing our journey towards our vision.

How are you approaching this transformation externally?

We cannot transform ourselves and in isolation. We are intentionally and proactively seeking external partnerships that contribute to diversity leadership, advocacy and positive change across the mining and construction industries, such as engaging with the Gold Industry Group 'Women in Gold' event and the Chamber of Minerals and Energy 'Women in Resource Awards'. We have also been involved with the Diversity Council of Australia, the CME Gender Diversity Group and the CEW and we continue to investigate opportunities to collaborate with other relevant industry organisations such as NAWIC, NAWO and CEOs for Gender Equity. 

That’s great Sarah, it sounds like BGC Contracting are serious in creating change internally and externally. What piece of advice would you give to other companies or those in a similar role to you?

It is essential to start at the top. Make sure you have Executive leadership and commitment before you act. Expect Executive role modelling, provide your leaders with a clear, company-specific plan and then work with them to take the many small steps towards your vision. Sustain the change by pacing yourself, the organisation, and celebrate successes. Always remember this is a long-term transformation that can only be made by working together and taking one step at a time. Be challenging but pragmatic.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Being part of leading the transformation of BGC Contracting and knowing that the work my team is doing is integral to our transformation.

Why do you support the Gold Industry Group?

We cannot transform tomorrow alone. We believe deeply in partnerships and in playing our role in leading and shaping the industry. We believe that the Gold Industry Group, especially through their 'Women in Gold' initiative, are important partners for us, as only together can we transform tomorrow.

What do you do for fun?

When I’m not at work I really enjoy reading, exercising, going to the beach and spending time with my friends and family.