Tickled pink by support for women in civil

Sage Civil Managing Director Asha Russell has taken delivery of a Cat® 320 Next Gen Excavator with a unique boom painted pink by WesTrac. Asha uses pink and purple machinery to spark important conversations about attracting women to the civil industry.

On a brisk Wednesday afternoon in July 2023, Sage Civil Managing Director Asha Russell arrived at WesTrac Casula in south-western Sydney to pick up a new Cat® 320 Next Gen Excavator.

This particular machine was designed to stand out from the rest, with its boom painted pink by WesTrac.

The excavator is the latest addition to Sage Civil’s growing colourful fleet of machinery, fitting in alongside a purple Cat 730C Articulated Truck, that do more than help drive business outcomes.

The bright customised machinery is used by Asha – a renowned leader in the civil sector – to spark conversations about attracting women to the civil industry.

Striving to boost female participation across the entire industry, her business is leading the way, with a female participation rate of 33% across the Sage Civil network.

“Although it’s just a colour, it’s not a colour to me,” Asha says. “It reflects what we’re trying to do in this industry and that is to drive women in civil.”

“WesTrac believe in what we’re trying to achieve and that is the common ground.”

“When people are driving past the job sites, and you’ve got a whole heap of yellow gear or orange gear and all of a sudden there’s a pink bit of gear… then the conversation starts and for me, it’s the most important thing in this industry.”

“It’s my passion to drive women in the industry, I’m not just doing it to tick a box.”

One of those female participants is Asha’s 20-year-old daughter Paris, who recently started an internship at Sage Civil.

“There are so many more opportunities that I was never given, to be a project engineer or civil engineer,” Asha explains.

“Doing this internship has actually opened her eyes a bit, she’s going to do project management.”

Paris’ story is one of many, with the Civil Contractors Federation New South Wales reporting an increase in female participation across the industry from 4.2% in 2017 to 9.9% currently.

“It’s a massive shift. There’s been a lot of movement and it’s not uncommon to see multiple women operating machines on site now rather than just one, so it’s definitely working,” Asha comments.

Role models like Asha provide proof of a career pathway for women in the civil industry, but Asha believes mentorship is vital in attracting and retaining women in the male-dominated industry.

“A lot of people come into the industry and they get thrown into the deep end. They might have a bad experience…where there’s no women or they feel isolated, they don’t get the joys of what this civil industry can really be,” she says.

Asha believes improving diversity in the civil industry is a team effort, requiring commitment from all involved.

“Diversity just isn’t about one person here, it’s not about Asha Russell, it’s about Sage Civil,” Asha says.

“It’s my whole team that makes it happen, it’s the supervisors and the fitters and the other operators that engage in this diversity to make it work.”

Diversity is the goal

WesTrac’s Sustainability Plan - Towards 2030 includes key outcomes dedicated to diversity, with a goal of reaching 25% female participation across the organisation by 2025.

WesTrac’s General Manager Construction Industries Alister Cant says diversity is a strong focus for the business. Supporting pathways for women to succeed in the construction and mining industry is a priority.

“We want to see women excel across WesTrac’s operations and we’re proud to have such a targeted goal to be working towards,” Alister says.

“WesTrac continues to promote inclusion and diversity through education and training, recruitment targets, and providing a safe and respectful working environment.”

WesTrac is one of three founding sponsors of the Civil Contractors Federation NSW Women in Civil program, and one of the first business to sign up to the 50 by 50 commitment which targets 50% female participation by 2025 in the civil industry.

“Asha and Sage Civil are exemplars in promoting female participation and set the standard, which is why WesTrac is proud to continue supplying and supporting her women in civil movement,” Alister concludes.

Asha has collaborated with WesTrac for her fleet needs for four years and has experienced first-hand the notable number of women working across the organisation.

“WesTrac are the leaders of our industry, they’re the ones we rely on to make the wheels turn,” Asha comments.

As for women wanting to join the civil industry, Asha’s advice is simple.

“Believe in yourself, anything is possible and once you forge your way in the civil industry, I don’t think you’d ever look back,” she encourages.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a woman or a man, if you can operate a machine, you’re good to go.”


Diversity at WesTrac

WesTrac’s vision is to reflect the richly diverse communities in which we operate, and celebrate the diversity of our people who feel safe to bring their authentic selves to work. We aspire to ensure we have a diverse and inclusive workforce that increasingly reflects the communities in which we operate.
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