Cat, Caterpillar, WesTrac

Tickled pink by support for women in civil

Sage Civil's Cat 320 excavator with its pink boom

Sage Civil has taken delivery of a Cat® 320 Next Gen excavator with a unique pink boom.

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 does more than help drive business outcomes.

Sage Civil Managing Director Asha Russell (right) with daughter and Sage Civil intern, Paris.
Sage Civil Managing Director Asha Russell (right) with daughter and Sage Civil intern, Paris.

Equal opportunity

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 per cent across the Sage Civil network.

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

“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… the conversation starts. 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 to be a project engineer or civil engineer that I was never given,” Asha says. “Doing this internship has actually opened her eyes a bit. She’s going to do project management.”

Role models like Asha provide proof of a career pathway for women in the civil industry.

Family footsteps

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 per cent in 2017 to 9.9 per cent currently.

“It’s a massive shift,” Asha comments. “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.”

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 said.

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,” she says. “It’s the supervisors and the fitters and the other operators who 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 per cent 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.”

Civil is for everyone

WesTrac is one of three founding sponsors of the Civil Contractors Federation NSW Women in Civil program, and one of the first businesses to sign up to the 50 by 50 commitment, which targets 50-per-cent 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 says.

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 is the leader of our industry. It’s the one we rely on to make the wheels turn,” she says.

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 encouraged.

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


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