Coates has continued its investment into the foundation of women’s sports across Australia, signing four key partnerships in 2023.
Recently the organisation announced two key partnerships with the Australian Football league (AFL), signing on as an Official Partner and the Official Hire Equipment Partner of the NAB AFL Women’s Competition (AFLW); and Workplay, the AFL’s careers platform for AFLW players. Launched in 2021, the latest edition of Workplay, powered by John Holland, connects AFLW players with flexible employment, career and educational resources to further advance the opportunities for female athletes to thrive on and off the field.
In addition, the company announced it has become the exclusive naming rights partner for the premier under-19’s Australian Rules competition for girls and boys – the Coates Talent League. Coates also announced it is an official partner of both the Newcastle Jets and Perth Glory Women’s A-League Football teams, with the company’s branding to adorn each team’s shorts.
Murray Vitlich, Chief Executive Officer, Coates said the foundation these leagues and teams have built has accelerated the opportunities for female athletes across the country.
“Not only are we proud to support fantastic female athletes and great role models, but we’re also equally proud to help grow the women’s game for generations to come as well as provide avenues for careers off the field,” Vitlich said.
Coates’ commitment to building and promoting diversity and inclusion led to it partnering with organisations that share the same values, according to Sheridan Jones, General Manager, Marketing and Communications at Coates.
“Coates is a values-based organisation where we aim to be our best, work as one team, continuously improve for our customers and care deeply about each other,” said Jones. “Together, with the AFLW, Perth Glory and the Newcastle Jets, we provide the best environments for teams and individuals to shine and it’s exciting to establish these partnerships with shared values.”
“We’re passionate about supporting the progression of women and helping them continue to pave the path forward for women’s sports across the country.”
Targeting 25 per cent by 2025: How the sector can foster more female participation
Coates, as an equipment hire and solutions provider to the construction industry, is conscious of the role it can play in creating a more inclusive and diverse workforce in what has traditionally been a male-dominated sector. Since 2021, the company has increased the participation of women in its nationwide workforce from 18.3 per cent in FY21 to 20.9 per cent in FY22, an increase of 62 females across the company. It has also increased female representation in management roles to 20.3 per cent in FY22 from 18 per cent in FY21.
“The foundation is there for us to continue growing our female workforce, but we need to do more,” said Vitlich. “We hold a privileged position as an industry leader to foster and represent change not just within our own ranks but within the sector at large, and it’s a responsibility we take seriously.”
The company has targeted 25 per cent female participation in both managerial positions and across the company by 2025. As part of its partnership with the AFLW, Coates hopes to provide a pathway beyond sport for interested AFLW athletes to join the business through its Workplay platform, while also hoping to guide the way forward for the construction industry to enable greater female participation more broadly.
In late 2022, Australian Constructors Association’s Chief Executive Officer Jon Davies, stated that just 12 per cent of the construction workforce are women. This is at a time when, according to the Master Builders Association, labour shortages have been identified as the single biggest pressure facing many construction organisations in 2023.
Vitlich says the sector as a whole needs to make these vacant roles more attractive to women, and it can do so by making every part of the sector – from the branch to the job site – more inclusive. For its part, Coates has established a more flexible working policy and launched the Leadership, Excellence and Performance (LEAP) program designed to identify and develop high performing, future female leaders at Coates.
“We see women’s sports as a barometer of how things can change quickly, and the AFLW, the Women’s A-League and others have done a phenomenal job of pushing elite women’s professional sports to the front of mind of sports fans,” said Vitlich. “A few years ago, this wasn’t necessarily the case, but their efforts have changed the habits of these fans across the country.”
“It’s a prime example of how quickly things can change if we are determined to change, and if we establish the right values to ensure that change is permanent.
“Construction is no different, and we believe the sector can learn from sport and become more diverse and more inclusive if we are collectively committed to progress.”