Indigenous engagement for a competitive edge Most resource companies have caught on to the benefits of a diverse workplace, but Incitec Pivot Limited’s Indigenous engagement program is leading the way and delivering the company a competitive edge. WITH RESEARCH SHOWING a reduction in Indigenous disadvantage would release an additional $8.3 billion into the Australian economy by 2029, leading chemical manufacturer Incitec Pivot Limited (IPL) is taking a proactive approach to Indigenous engagement. MARY Launched from its Phosphate Hill McCABE project in the heart of rural Queensland, IPL’s Indigenous Employment Program is proving to be an invaluable investment for both the business and wider community. According to indigenous program manager Mary McCabe, diversifying the workplace is not just a ‘feel-good add-on’, but is also good for business growth and development. “Improving the employment landscape for Indigenous Australians makes sense for Australia’s economy and for social reasons, but diversity is also a strategic tool that can develop the strength, productivity and profitability of a workplace,” says McCabe. “As well as improved innovation and creativity, organisations that are diverse and inclusive have an improved capacity to overcome challenges in original and effective ways. “When successfully managed, diversity contributes to the growth and expansion of an organisation and supports the empowerment of all employees, irrespective of cultural religious or political background, so that they may reach their full potential to contribute to the business and its growth.” Based on a framework of recognition, respect and diversity appreciation, IPL’s Indigenous Employment Program aims to increase the number of opportunities for Indigenous Australians by providing access to employment, education and training. However, the program focuses on more than providing opportunities; it also focuses on developing respect within its workforce. “Embracing diversity is about valuing the unique attributes and different characteristics of each individual,” says McCabe. “This approach to diversity aligns with the group’s values, specifically ‘respect, recognise and reward’, where we respect each other as individuals.” At a brand level, McCabe says a workplace directive toward cultural respect can position organisations as employers of choice. In an ever-changing and demanding market, diversity can deliver the competitive edge to draw talent from both Indigenous and non-Indigenous recruitment markets.
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Beyond empowering individuals and stimulating positive business returns, McCabe also believes that IPL’s diversifying initiative is developing stronger community relationships. “Utilisation of community resources and strong support for local businesses are focal points for IPL’s Indigenous Employment Program,” she says. “This, in turn, grows the local economy and positions the organisation as an employer of choice while also contributing to the development of a sustainable and capable community workforce.” With more than 15 projects operating throughout rural Australia, community engagement is a vital element in positive business conduct, and McCabe says the Indigenous Employment Program promotes a ‘responsive and judicious’ organisation that balances client needs with delivering quality community care. “IPL is acutely aware of its impact on local communities and, as a result, strive to foster safe and cohesive working and living environments,” she says. “As such, our corporate social framework is focused on supporting both the local and wider community.” IPL’s 10-year success with their Indigenous Employment Program has contributed to a significant shift toward culturally diverse workplaces across the resource sector. “By investing in the community with an Indigenous development program, business growth can be cultivated now and in the future.”
Jana and Barry in the control room.