A Winning Drive for Diversity

October 3, 2022


Alex Fraser and Hanson Australia are winners of the Australian Freight Industry Awards (AFIA) 2022 Female Leadership Award. As a representative of Alex Fraser and Hanson Australia, Communication Manager Cara Spencer was presented with the Award at Crown Palladium.

Alex Fraser Managing Director Peter Murphy said it was great to see Alex Fraser and Hanson Australia people recognised for their commitment to improving diversity and inclusion.

Winners AFIA 2022 Female Leadership Award

Cara Spencer accepts the Female Leadership award with HR Manager Jeff Burns

“Cara played a key role in getting our diversity initiative off the ground, and continually pushes to do better.”

“In 2018, we were looking for practical ways to  increase female participation within the business.”

“Together with our leadership group, we forged a relationship with Jacquelene Brotherton and Transport Women Australia Limited (TWAL) who were on the cusp of establishing their Women Driving Transport Careers initiative.”

“We joined forces with TWAL, and alongside Linfox and Australia Post, we launched the country’s first accredited heavy vehicle training and licensing program specifically for women. They then worked with our team to launch Hanson Australia and Alex Fraser’s first successful Trainee Driver Program for women.”

Trainee Driver Program

The initial Trainee Driver program was offered to women with a motor car license.  It progressed through a free, four-week intensive driver training program, license testing for Heavy Rigid (HR), followed by full-time employment as trainee concrete agitator and tipper driver. The first course graduated seven women. Since then, the program has expanded to other regions, and more than 60 women have graduated into full-time work at Hanson Australia and Alex Fraser.

Mr Murphy says, improving diversity and inclusion of women goes much further than recruiting women, and should include career development and organisational cultural development.

There are also  a range of practical improvements to formerly male-orientated work systems and environments that are too often overlooked, including amenities, uniform and flexible working arrangements. “Retaining good people is just as important as recruiting them. Small, practical changes, such as ensuring there are appropriate amenities onsite for all employees of all genders, is a very basic requirement but one that requires significant attention and investment to get right across our industry.”

Winners AFIA 2022 Female Leadership Award

Cara Spencer and Jeff Burns, Winners AFIA 2022 Female Leadership Award

“Access to ongoing career and leadership development opportunities especially for women is also a focus. It’s been a encouraging to see senior Hanson and Alex Fraser women complete the Chief Executive Women Leaders Program, and focused on fulfilling their leadership potential through challenging and rewarding careers within the businesses.”

The companies have also conducted a review of their uniform and PPE range for women and have made many resulting improvements to the range, to ensure the gear is comfortable and suited to women working in the business.

Ms Spencer says she was humbled by the the nomination made by Transport Women Australia Limited, and the subsequent award.

“I am overwhelmed by this honour, but I must say that this award doesn’t belong to to me. It belongs to the many, many champions of change throughout Alex Fraser and Hanson Australia – many of them men, seeking better outcomes for women.

Thank you to Jacquelene, True and the crew at Transport Women Australia Limited for the nomination.”

She also acknowledged the army of people across Hanson and Alex Fraser who helped ‘make it happen’.

“In the spirit of recognition, congratulations and thanks must go out to Jeff Burns who has driven this initiative from its beginnings, Phil Schacht, Peter Murphy, Ian Hedges who set the bar – insisting ‘we do better’. To leaders like Sean McCormick, Mario Tenaglia, David Pallot, Andrew Ritchie, Nicholas Jones and Peter Barns who enthusiastically backed our early Driver Training Program for Women here in Victoria, and to Tegan Ang who’s determined to take it next level. This is just the beginning of our drive for diversity. We have much, much more work to do.”

“Most of all, a huge vote of gratitude must go to the women who were brave and bold enough to step up to the challenge, and become our trail-blazing, female drivers.”

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