Ed Kalajzic

Western Power CEO
In his own words . . .
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Why commit to more women in the workplace?

Diversity in the workforce is more than a buzz word or a target on a page to be studied in the annual report, it’s a key priority now and in the future for our business.  As a critical service provider which puts the community at the centre of everything we do, diversity in our workforce is essential.

As the CEO, it is my privilege to lead Western Power and ensure we make a real difference in gender equity.  I have been very fortunate in my career to have been given some great opportunities; I want everyone to be given that same right.

 

I am passionate about gender equity and will continue to promote, encourage and enhance others to as well, both within our business and the broader community. 

Traditionally we may have been pegged as a male-dominated, poles-and-wires business, charged with getting energy from the power station to homes and businesses.

I’m pleased to say that times have changed, and are continuing to change, for the better – for our employees, our business, and our community.

For a number of years, we’ve been moving away from our traditional business model into a future-focussed organisation which is at the forefront of the energy industry in leveraging new technologies and integrating renewables.

The women in our business, and the ones we hope will work for us in the future, play an important role in the way we operate. I firmly believe that the greater the breadth of thinking, skills, backgrounds and perspectives we can foster and harness as we move towards a smarter energy future, the better.

Our organisation is filled with incredibly skilled women, who are experts in their field and are committed to powering the lives of our 2.3 million customers into a greener, brighter and more resilient energy supply for the next generation.

As a 70-year-old traditionally male-dominated organisation, achieving gender equity has been an ongoing challenge, however we’re breaking down the barriers and making considerable headway in advancing women in our business.

We’ve been driving change through role modelling equality, removing existing or perceived barriers, providing training, mentoring and education opportunities and highlighting the valuable contribution women make to the energy industry.

Through our Diversity and Inclusion Strategy we’re seeing more and more women enter our workforce in the roles of engineers, IT specialists, line crews and electricians, as well as an increase in women in management roles.

Fostering an inclusive workplace, where the talents and ideas of all individuals are valued, regardless of role, gender, background, or experiences, is paying dividends for us.

Measures to achieve this include setting clear and quantifiable expectations for diversity; providing measurement tools; giving our people skills in diversity training; providing support through our employee network groups; and delivering better training, systems and resources for leaders in inclusion and diversity principles. We are undergoing policy, procedure and practice reviews across our business, including identifying gender pay gaps and opportunities to improve our recruitment processes, to be more inclusive.

 

Most importantly we have seen a noticeable shift in our culture, not only the level of awareness and participation in inclusive initiatives, but  in the way our employees consciously choose to work together.

 

We have recently achieved gender parity on our Board (from a target of 33 per cent in 2017 to 50 per cent in 2021) plus an increase in the number of women in formal leadership roles to almost 30 per cent.

As well as offering a number of scholarships for female students in STEM fields, we’ve made a real push to support gender balance in our trainee, apprentice and graduate programs. More than half of our new apprentices we onboarded in 2020 were women, a great milestone for us. Our entry level program has also been invigorated to empower more diverse employees (including those who may not have formal qualifications) and have embarked on a strategic and targeted leadership development program.

We know the concept of `if you can see it, you can be it’ will be key to bringing women into the energy industry in the future, which is why we’re widely promoting our women in engineering and STEM roles both internally and externally.

By investing in Diversity and Inclusion both at the strategic level as well at office and depot sites, we will further become an employer of choice, not just in WA but nationally and beyond, delivering greater outcomes for Western Australians.

 

As a key player in the evolution of the energy sector, we need to ensure our workforce is as diverse, supported and developed according to their needs and career cadence, leveraging their skills and expertise to innovate our network, address climate change, and decarbonise our community.