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Onwards and upwards for Women in Hire

As the HRIA’s Women in Hire Development Program kicks off for a sixth year, Program Champion and Operations Manager, Laura Connarty-Duncan, reflects on progress made and goals for the future.

Six years ago, the HRIA unveiled its Women in Hire Development Program, a structured program designed to give women across our industry opportunities to improve their career pathways and
develop leadership skills. This represented a significant move by the HRIA to increase opportunities for women in our industry. Hire has always been a traditionally male-dominated industry, however, like most workplaces across Australia, we recognised the inequalities and made a commitment to increasing diversity and improving inclusion.

Diverse workplaces enable greater productivity, better problem-solving and achieve better outcomes for employees and customers. From technical departments to storerooms
and shopfronts; in HR, marketing, sales, management and everything in between, diversity brings a wealth of skills, knowledge, communication styles and unique point of views. That’s why the HRIA– with the unanimous backing of the HRIA Board and also now benefiting from program supporters, Kennards Hire, Onsite Rental Group, Blackwood Hire, Harry the hirer, Genie and Classic Hire — continues to enthusiastically support the program. Earlier this year, we reviewed the first five years of feedback overwhelmingly telling us that the program needed to expand.

In 2023, the program is bigger than it’s ever been. That’s partly due to the Women in Hire of the Year Award being presented for the first time at the HIRE23 Gala Award Dinner in May 2023. This idea was championed by longstanding program mentor and EWPA Vice President, Tim Nuttall. It’s about ensuring we place the same value on developing women in our industry as we do on developing our young professionals, because they represent this industry’s future leaders. In our 2023/24 program, we have 49 mentees, which is our largest cohort to date, with groups in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. There’s also a hybrid program in Western Australia and South Australia. Those 49 participants are in the ‘care’ of 36 Mentors, who collectively,
bring over 600 years of industry experience to the program. It’s a great reflection on the program that both Mentors and Mentees gain so much from the experience and with a reputation that’s growing throughout the industry, we’re already receiving applications and expressions of interest for our 2024/25 program!

While the program is heavily subsidised by the Association, member companies are recognising the value it brings. Participants make invaluable connections to other women in the
industry, build their networks and have a safe space and support throughout their career. We’re also grateful to our male Mentors who continue to champion careers for women in our industry.
HRIA Women in Hire has been — and continues to be — an outstanding success for our industry. It’s also a testament to the insights and expertise of our training partner, Strategic Alignment Training’s Aileen Hiskins, who developed the program to meet the unique needs of our industry. As the first female Operations Manager for the HRIA (EWPA and TSHA) in the Association’s 40-year history, I’m so proud to champion Women in Hire. I also have a unique position reporting directly to the Board, ensuring women’s opportunities and equality are represented. Our vision is to ensure there’s a pathway for women from member to participant of the Women in Hire program, to active attendee at State Meetings. We’d love to see the Women in Hire cohort joining
a State Committee and one day, would celebrate female State Presidents and members of our Boards.

To learn more about the program, click the link below or contact Laura@hria.com.au.


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