“A great corporate citizen welcomes people from all walks of life.”
2 August 2012
Article by Bellinda Parkes
The Sydney Morning Herald
Hundreds of thousands of people go to work each week at Coles or Woolworths stores across the country. Statistically, however, few of them have been indigenous Australians.
In the past few years, both supermarket giants have taken steps to better represent the communities they serve by introducing employment programs and strategies to welcome Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people into their teams.
The store development and operations manager at Coles, Stuart Machin, says understanding and respecting cultural differences is central to ensuring a program’s success. “A great corporate citizen welcomes people from all walks of life,” he says. “At the same time, you want to have the best people, and to do that you have to build the foundations of cultural understanding and awareness.”
Coles not only runs an indigenous employment program – which includes pre-employment preparation and personal mentoring – it also implements cultural awareness training for non-indigenous team leaders.
Machin says three years ago, Coles employed 65 people identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. It now employs 800.
Retention rates at the retailer are higher for indigenous employees than non-indigenous staff. And Machin is passionate about improving indigenous employment statistics.
“The latest census data out in 2012 showed the indigenous population has increased by 20 per cent and they represent 2.5 percent of all Australians,” Machin says. “Businesses should look at their own origins and reflect whether their organisation represents Australia’s diverse population.”