GENDER DIVERSITY FEATURE
ILUKA’S DIVERSITY champion Stuart Forrester’s courage to challenge traditional recruitment methods has seen the Iluka Resources operations manager emerge a true gender diversity champion, and his vision is taking the company to new performance heights.
WHAT IF YOU could build a workforce that is more diverse, more productive and more engaged simply by choosing to focus on candidates’ core values and behaviours instead of their skills, qualifications and previous work experience? If you think that approach would never work in practice, let alone get by the executive team, then you probably haven’t met Iluka Resources’ Narngulu operations manager Stuart Forrester. Forrester is credited with turning the mineral sands mining company’s recruitment process on its head using an unconventional method that would make the most liberal of hiring managers nervous. And it’s paying off remarkably. VALUES OVER SKILLS
Before joining Iluka, Forrester worked for Rio Tinto, where he witnessed the positive Iluka’s recruitment practices have been transformed to increase diversity
impact that recruiting more women and people of varying backgrounds can have on workforce performance. In 2009, when he started in his operations manager role at Iluka’s Narngulu-based minerals separation plant near Geraldton, Western Australia, there wasn’t a single woman in his team of 90, so Forrester set about changing perceptions of the ‘right candidate’. “Most people will argue safety statistics will suffer if you bring in people that don’t have experience in mining operations or an understanding of the safety culture,” Forrester says. “I don’t believe that. Iluka recruits people based on our three core values of commitment, integrity and responsibility. Considering responsibility alone, the interview process is set up to find people who are responsible – irrespective of what
industry they’ve worked in previously.” One of the first steps was removing operational minimum requirements from Iluka’s job advertisements. Instead, advertisements called for people aligned with the company’s values of commitment, integrity and responsibility. “We opened the recruitment process up for more people to apply for our jobs and advertised in the local community paper that positions were open for all,” Forrester explains. When interviewing for an operator’s role, inviting a greater diversity of applicants meant Forrester and his team would now meet as many applicants as possible. “It takes a lot of time and commitment but people are one of our most important assets, so why not put that time up front to get the right person?” he asks. “We’ve got to the point where we