Material supplied by Coates
One of the missions of the International Women’s Day (IWD) – which falls on March 8th every year – is to celebrate women athletes and applaud when equality is achieved in pay, sponsorship and visibility. This resonates with Coates’ aspirations, says Sheridan Jones, Coates GM of Marketing and Communications.
“To have a real impact on matters that are important to us, we need to not only change the way we think and act, but also inspire others to act as well. Through our sponsorship of women’s sporting teams, we want to demonstrate more explicitly our commitment to the progression of women”says Sheridan. “Coates has a lot of heritage in sponsoring sports; we know the difference sport can make to communities around Australia, and it’s important that our sporting partnerships reflect those communities, especially the communities in which we operate.”
By partnering with the Australian Football League Women’s (AFLW) competition, in addition to sponsoring the Newcastle Jets and Perth Glory A-league football teams, Coates aims to increase visibility of female athletes and provide more equitable opportunities for women at the same time, on and off the field.
“We want to provide a more equitable future for everyone. But for us it’s more than providing the same opportunities to women as we do for men, it’s about striving together as one team,” Sheridan says. “By partnering with these football teams, we are bringing visibility to the values and behaviours that we emulate as an organisation, which are centred around that whole ethos of teamwork and being a supportive team player who cares deeply, so that everyone can be their best, true selves in the field and workplace.”
The recent announcement that Coates will sponsor the Newcastle Jets in New South Wales and the Perth Glory football teams, times well with FIFA Women’s World Cup this year, hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
“There’s a lot of excitement about the world cup and as an organisation we wanted to actively support these fantastic female athletes and role models who are helping grow the women’s game for generations to come,” she states. “This serves to inspire future professional female athletes across the country.”
“Coates branching out to sponsor the AFLW, in addition to the east and west female football teams has very much been driven by our male leaders,” she explains. “There is so much enthusiasm from our male leaders to see women thrive which is important to highlight, because this has a ripple effect throughout our organisation and to the communities in which we operate. And we should celebrate the men who foster the growth of women.”
From an internal standpoint, Coates has made strides on its own goal of having 25 per cent female participation on its workforce by 2025.
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“We moved the dial from 2021 total female representation up 3 per cent, so we now have reached 20.9 of total women employees at Coates,” Sheridan enthuses. “In actual numbers that’s 62 more females in our workforce compared with last year. For comparison, we had 362 females out of a total number of 1,974 employees in 2021, and that is now 424 females out of a total workforce of 2,024 employees in 2023.”
On the management front, Coates now has three women on its executive leadership team.
“It’s exciting to have seen an increase of 5 per cent in female leadership, with the percentage reaching 19.6 per cent of women in management,” says Sheridan. “We’re glad to be on the path to achieving our aspiration of 25 per cent.”
In line with the IWD theme for 2023 ‘embrace equity’, a key priority for Coates is reducing the gender pay gap. This involves using targeted parity-based salary increases, in addition to regular reviews of pay parity as part of the organisation’s broad remuneration review processes. Moreover, the company introduced a Flexibility Policy to enable flexible work arrangements in 2022.
Sheridan reiterates the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is not just a ‘sporting’ goal. It’s one that the organisation sees as fundamental to its future.
“These partnerships are about people and communities. For us it’s important for young people and women to feel represented. Sponsoring the AFLW, the Newcastle Jets, and Perth Glory football teams provides that visibility,” she says. “As an organisation we need to attract more women and younger people and show the working opportunities that are possible in their future.”
To summarise, Sheridan makes the point that sport brings people together in a way that other activities that are community-facing may not.
“Sport can provide a connection that transcends cultural or social differences.