Hi-vis maternity range advocates industrial inclusion
A collaboration between BHP, Blackwoods and Co Gear has led to the redesign of women’s high-visibility maternity wear, at a time when industrial and trade businesses across Australia are striving to increase the number of women taking on industrial and trade roles across a range of industries. Co Gear Founder and Director Kym O’Leary said industries have been discussing inclusion and diversity initiatives in their workplaces, but the needle has been slow to move, despite a growing number of women in industrial and trade roles within these industries. “There is a growing number of women looking to pivot away from roles in metro areas and take on industrial and trade roles with some of the biggest mining and construction companies in Australia,” O’Leary said. “But they are holding themselves back because things like workwear are not always suited for women.”
Many women requiring high-visibility workwear that is compliant, durable, functional and correctly fitted have a limited number of options to select from — and for expecting mothers, the choices are even fewer. “While some businesses may not see the introduction of workwear for women as a significant change, it is actually an immediate and tangible output that can demonstrate commitment to progress. [B]usinesses need to go beyond creating committees and implementing policies, assuming the job is done. They need to make broader strides and take immediate action where they can, even if it is bucking the one-size-fits-all mentality around workwear,” O’Leary said.
Mother-to-be and North Queensland fly-in fly-out worker Rejoice Jacobs said more mining and construction companies should offer maternity wear on their workwear lists. “Having workwear designed to accommodate for the changes you go through during pregnancy is great,” Jacobs said. “After all, it’s not only a woman’s belly that grows during pregnancy. It’s so nice having a comfortable option that will take me through my whole pregnancy, without needing to order larger sizes every few months. I think having this as an option for more women will help them to feel more included at work.” O’Leary said the real-world application of the Co Gear range was a key factor to perfecting the final designs.
The maternity workwear designs were subject to considerable research and development testing across the Bowen Basin and Pilbara mining regions, to ensure they stood up to the practical challenges faced by women onsite. “When we started working on the redesigns for our range of women’s workwear, we knew that collaboration was going to be a major contributor to our success, and fortunately we had plenty of support from industry leaders such as BHP and Blackwoods,” O’Leary said. Based in Toowoomba, Queensland, Co Gear is collaborating with industry leaders to design a range of high-quality workwear that is comfortable and practical for women working across different industrial and trade sectors. “The feedback we received from women across varying roles in often challenging conditions was very positive,” O’Leary said, “and further highlighted the need for businesses to re-evaluate the workwear options they are offering staff.”
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