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Jaysons passion for gender diversity brings big wins

Ask anyone at BMC’s Poitrel Mine if they’ve crossed paths with Jayson Smeeton, and you’ll be met with a smile.

The Manager Production has a real go-getter attitude that encourages positivity at the Operation, and while his day to day targets might focus on production, he’s hit the bullseye with delivering real diversity wins too.

Acknowledging BHP’s focus towards building a more inclusive and diverse workplace, Jayson spearheaded a study at BHP Mitsui Coal's Poitrel operation to understand the demographic and what it would take to help support this focus. 

An action plan was developed and part of this plan was the Mines Traineeship Program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, in partnership with labour hire services provider Mickala Mining.

The program facilitated, and provided a nationally accredited and recognised certificate in surface extraction.

Bolstered by rigorous community engagement sessions, a recruitment drive, and a focus on respectful working behaviours, the program unlocked incredible talent and value.

Since its inception, 62 indigenous workers have joined BMC, more than 70 percent of those female, with a 95 per cent retention rate.

It has lifted BMC Poitrel’s Indigenous workforce more than sixfold, from 1.8 per cent to 11.6 per cent, and female representation at BMC Poitrel to 24.2 per cent.

Jayson said it has transformed lives.

“These trainees have come into a large mining environment with big characters and big machinery and have owned it,” he said.

“They have brought a real energy and enthusiasm to their work, and delivered in high-performance conditions.”

Growing up in regional Western Australia on a family sheep farm and relocating to the city for education, Jayson said he understood the challenges of regional communities, and said to unlock diverse talent, a regional focus needs to remain at the forefront. 

To do this, he said acknowledging technology advancements and staying connected with the community at a regional and state level to develop, train and support opportunities in the future is critical.

“There remains disparity between city and country life and how infrastructure, schooling and a culture that enables workplace diversity exists,” he said.

“This means looking beyond one asset or operation and partnering as an industry to achieve diverse thinking and strategy within regional community where the large proportion of our operations exist.”

“My vision for gender diversity is how organisations move from ‘we know gender diversity is important’ to ‘we understand and embody it in our attitudes and behaviours within the organisation and community’.”

Jayson is a finalist in the 2020 Queensland Resources Awards for Women, in the Gender Diversity Champion category.

The winners will be announced at the Women in Mining and Resources Queensland International Women’s Day breakfast, at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre in March.