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Hyne encouraging more women into manufacturing

20 July 2021

Increased focus on greater diversity in the workplace coupled with community feedback has spurred Hyne Timber to call for more female students and women to consider careers in manufacturing. As part of a recent recruitment drive in Maryborough and Hervey Bay shopping centres, Hyne personnel have been left astounded at the number of women who did not consider applying for roles, purely based on their gender.

Hyne Timber CEO, Jon Kleinschmidt said there is no doubt the manufacturing workforce has historically been male dominated but that means half the potential talent pool are not being considered. “There is work to do so female students and women know about the career opportunities in manufacturing while also ensuring our workplaces are an environment where women can confidently contribute through diverse thinking and problem solving, overall improving results”.

“The kind of feedback we have received recently, particularly from women in the community means we really have to work harder. Women are eligible for all our operational roles and may be surprised to discover just how fulfilling it is to work in modern manufacturing. To help reduce unconscious bias when recruiting, we now have artificial intelligence software to assist with shortlisting plus all our selection panels have even representation of male and females”.

“We have gender diversity in our Board, our executive team and our support functions and we’re starting to see an improvement in our operational areas including the appointment of the first female Site Manager recently at our Glue Laminated Timber Plant in Maryborough.” Mr Kleinschmidt said.

Site Manager, Ms Andrea Frost, brings a wealth of experience in manufacturing management, competitive and lean practices, safety, value stream mapping, and an infectiously enthusiastic energy for how products are made, in this case, Glue Laminated Timber. With demand for Glue Laminated Timber on the increase, the site will be recruiting for an additional shift in a few weeks’ time and women are encouraged to apply.

Ms Frost said recruitment to the site team will focus on diversity including gender, but we do not have quotas. “We need to attract the best people for the work and people will be assessed on merit. The challenge this presents to us, is encouraging more women to apply in the first place.” Ms Frost said.

Several other women have recently joined the Glue Laminated Timber plant, all with their own interesting stories and experience to bring to site. Process Operator, Ella Douglass is creative having always enjoyed “working with her dad in the shed using timber”. Ella undertook a carpentry apprenticeship with the Fraser Coast Regional Council and went on to complete an engineering course.

Process Operator Aimee Burns joins the plant with past experience as an Area Manager for BP. Aimee admitted she was a little apprehensive about working in manufacturing as a woman, with friends claiming she “wouldn’t last”.

Process Operator, Jess Wixon also brings a fresh set of eyes to the process with a specific focus on safety. She identified an opportunity to introduce more rotation into the process, decreasing any repetition and improving safety which the whole team appreciated and can benefit from.

“I always look at the process and see how it can be improved. It is also important to know the up and downstream processes and why we operate the way we do if we are to contribute to overall efficiency gains and productivity improvements. There is certainly an incorrect perception in the community that this isn’t a place for women. When I collected my child from childcare recently, I was questioned by the carer regarding me wearing high vis clothing and how they didn’t think women could work in manufacturing”.

“We all have a role to play in breaking open this myth. Women can work in manufacturing and contribute great value. No one, male or female should have the view this isn’t a place for women.” Ms Wixon said.

Photo: (From left) Ella Douglass, Andrea Frost, Aimee Burns and Jess Wixon at Hyne’s glulam plant

Source: Hyne Timber

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