Inclusion & Diversity – Women in Trades

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Creating an inclusive culture at Victoria University Polytechnic.

Fiona McDonald

Managing Director, Tradeswomen Australia

Across every modern industry, it's clear that workplace diversity is an asset. The range of skills, backgrounds and perspectives can make a business stronger. Across all trades, we're lucky to be welcoming a more diverse workforce, revitalising our industry and filling serious skills shortages. But to continue this growth and reap the benefits, we need to build and champion an inclusive culture, one where individual differences are valued and everyone is given equal opportunity to succeed. As students, teachers, workers and future managers, you have the opportunity to play your part and lead by example.

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An inclusive culture is one that encourages respect, equity and positive recognition of differences.

Fiona McDonald

A crucial step in creating an inclusive culture is working together to recognise and remove discrimination and harassment.

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Discrimination is when we treat someone unfairly or differently because of their gender, race, age or physical characteristics.

Jacquelynne

Student, Certificate III in Plumbing, VU Polytechnic

I think discrimination can take many forms. It can vary in severity. It might be something as overlooked as me walking onto a factory floor and having a tradie say, remark that they're surprised that I'm a plumber as opposed to the office administrator or something like that.

Virginia

Student, Certificate III in Plumbing, VU Polytechnic

Going into a client's house, they sort of assume that oh, it's a girl. It's supposed to be for a guy and I've had sort of comments and remarks made about oh, you shouldn't be doing this, you shouldn't be doing that.

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Harassment is discriminatory behaviour that humiliates, offends, intimidates the person concerned.

Jacquelynne

It could be derogatory jokes that can offend anyone regarding their age, gender, race. It might be something like a young apprentice starting who gets bullied for their age and their inexperience.

Virginia

I think it just lowers people's self-esteem. If I was personally attacked like that at a workplace, I definitely wouldn't wanna show up.

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Sexual harassment is any physical or non-physical, unwelcome behaviour that's sexual in nature. It can also be creating a sexually hostile workplace.

Jacquelynne

It can be something like catcalling or even unwarranted physical touching. Even asking someone on a date constantly after they refuse. That's definitely sexual harassment.

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Championing an inclusive workplace.

Jacquelynne

I think at the end of the day, everyone loves a good banter but just think about what you're saying before you say it. And that's the main thing. Try and put yourself in their boots so to speak. We wanna create a industry where we can be inclusive, diverse, where someone feels comfortable just coming in every day.

Virginia

I think it's everyone's responsibility. It's not just your boss or your other workers. I think everyone has to be a part of it to bring it all together because we're basically a team at the end of the day.

Fiona

Increasing diversity is not only a reality for our business but one of its greatest strengths. By taking the time to understand your own responsibilities, you not only create a positive environment for your workmates but you set the standard for a modern and vibrant industry that we can all be proud of.

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For more information: vu.edu.au/diversity-inclusion.

If you are a current student or staff member seeking support please contact the Safer Community team: vu.edu.au/safer-community or email [email protected] if you would like to contact a manager or the Dean.

Produced in partnership with Victoria University Polytechnic and Tradeswomen Australia.

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