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WesTrac Digs for Diverse Talent with Corporate Mentoring



How does WesTrac, in a predominately male dominated industry, attract and retain diverse talent? By allowing its people access to the support and guidance of a mentor external to their business through Inspiring Rare Birds corporate mentoring program, WesTrac impacted its diversity and inclusion strategy in a very meaningful and measurable way.

  • WesTrac employs 13.39% of female talent across the business
  • WesTrac piloted Inspiring Rare Birds corporate mentoring program to drive feedback loops and inclusion strategies
  • Mentee cohort liked the opinion of a mentor external to WesTrac and ability to communicate in an open and unbiased way
  • 76.19% of participants said the program improved their leadership skills

WesTrac is one of the world’s largest Caterpillar dealerships servicing the mining, construction, agriculture, forestry and marine industries, however, it says people are at the very centre of its operations. 

“As we look to the future, we’re focused on harnessing the best talent and providing them with the support they need to achieve success,” says WesTrac HR Director Rob Hooke.

Female employees hold roles throughout the entire business, from mechanics and apprentices to sales, administration, HR, legal, warehousing, safety, training, finance, technology and in management, but make up only 13.39% of all staff.

Image Source: WesTrac

Attracting and retaining a diverse workforce

“One of our biggest challenges is attracting women into industry with heavy machinery, however we are doing what we can to make WesTrac an employer of choice” says Rob.

WesTrac’s active Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Committee has a strong focus on gender equality and inclusion and knows that diversity in all its forms is a key component of high performing teams.

“Diverse teams are more socially cohesive, emotionally connected, empathetic and supportive of each other in pursuit of a common goal,” Rob said last Friday when WesTrac celebrated its second International Women’s Day as a company.

“It allows us to avoid group think which improves safety at work.”

Image Source: WesTrac

Staff and new hires should be judged on their quality of character, capability and work ethic, and nothing else, says Rob.

Numerous studies have shown the array of benefits a company can gain from having a diverse workforce. In their relentless pursuit of continuing to build high performing teams, WesTrac is stopping at nothing to attract women to the heavy industry.

To aid in achieving this, WesTrac engaged Inspiring Rare Birds to implement a mentoring program that would drive retention and impact its diversity and inclusion strategy.

Enter Rare Birds corporate mentoring program

The program matched 26 mentees, both male and female, with high calibre mentors from varied industries – from SaaS to the Entertainment industry.

“It is proven that this works better,” says Rare Birds CEO and Founder Jo Burston. “If they’re not in the same industry, they’re not talking about the same jargon, they’re opening their minds to different perspectives that still understand what it is to be, a line manager for example. It also prevents poaching.”

They met once a month – virtually or face to face – at a flexible and suitable time for mentees.

The objectives set out in the program were overall for the business to achieve improved leadership capability in both men and women and drive diversity at all organisational levels. 

The results

In a feedback survey of respondents, 75.19% said they were satisfied or very satisfied that the program met their initial expectations.

They particularly liked the opinion of a mentor external to WesTrac and the ability to communicate in an open and unbiased way and the flexibility of mentors around when to meet and ability to meet virtually or face to face.

“Most of our employees believe that their participation in the program was very valuable to both them and will benefit WesTrac in a meaningful and measurable way,” says Rob.

  • 95.24% of respondents said that they made progress towards achieving the objectives set at the outset of the program.
  • 76.19% of respondents said that they agree or strongly agree that the program improved their leadership skills.
  • 71.43% of respondents said they believe their mentor was a good fit.
Image Source: WesTrac

Some of the greatest learnings mentees said were: 

  • To be more confident it doesn’t take a great deal of change, you can start small. Not to focus on the negative, step outside your comfort zone. Activities I complete outside of work can have a significant impact on the way I work in the business, becoming more confident dealing with senior leaders and interacting with others. Being able to self reflect and focus on what I can control vs what I cannot control
  • That a true leader knows when to trust in their colleagues, and that it is not a weakness learning to step back and trust others but that it is a strength and helps bond a team by showing that trust you have in others

WesTrac’s commitment to a sustainable approach towards improving diversity earmarks a long-awaited change in attitude in the industry.

As an established EEO employer, WesTrac is always looking for new talent to help in growing their diverse workforce. Visit www.westrac.com.au/Careers for further information.

Valuable feedback was attained from this cohort to also help the Rare Birds team enhance future cohort outcomes in our corporate mentoring programs.

Find out more about Rare Birds corporate mentoring programs.