Having built a culture based on inclusivity and diversity, Eather Group in Sydney has been seeing more and more women joining its business – in roles that include everything from truck driving and office roles to executive positions.
Last year, the company not only celebrated its 10th birthday, but also the fact that it’s playing its part in reducing the gender gap, with 25% of its workforce being women.
Among those are two very talented truckies – Patricia Birch, or Blu as she is better known, who recently joined Eather, bringing with her decades of experience as a truck driver; and newcomer Bianca Clark, who is bringing a fresh perspective to the company.
You’ll find Bianca behind the wheel of a fire-engine red 600hp Kenworth 909, carting 38 tonne loads of various natural materials across NSW. This truck has a special place in the fleet, not because its colour makes it stand out as the only Eather truck that isn’t white, but because of its rego, B1OCKA, and the sentiment behind it.
Along with being the nickname of Eather Group’s founder and Managing Director, Peter Eather, Blocka was also the nickname of his step-father-in-law, who passed away in 2019.
The pride of the fleet is HOSS1. This 2019 Kenworth 909 is named after Peter’s father Albert ‘Hoss’ Eather, who passed away in 2005. Albert worked in the industry for around 40 years and taught his son Peter the ropes.
Peter started Eather Group in June 2010, together with his wife Sally-ann who is Business Manager. With their daughter Divinia Eather stepping into the role of Marketing Manager, it’s a true family business.
“Dad saw so much opportunity for more innovative, sustainable approaches to industry practices, and that’s why he decided to go out on his own, starting with one pink truck called Pinky. And the business has just kept growing,” said Divinia
Based in Llandilo, in Sydney’s north-west, Eather works within the civil, construction and waste to resource industry.
“We’ve created a circular economy, so can take in a project in a holistic way – from demolition and construction, to rehabilitation. With the network we have created over the past 10 years, we are able to make full use of raw excavated materials, assessing reuse opportunities and cycling them back into the industry rather than simply disposing of them. Essentially, we find new homes for the materials that come out of the ground during projects,” Divinia added.
Eather has seen significant growth, particularly in the last three years. It now employs around 30 people and has 30 company-owned trucks and heavy machines.
Despite COVID, it’s been a busy year for Eather, which has just completed the NSW Bushfire Recovery and Clean Up Program, everywhere from the Blue Mountains, to the Snowy Mountains and Cobargo.
“It’s very unfortunate that there was so much damage caused by the bushfires, but that has kept us really busy.
“We just finished that work in December. It has literally brought us right through COVID. Where we live at the base of the Blue Mountains, there were huge fires and then straight after we had some of the worst flooding we have had in years,” explained Divinia.
She said there has been a steady increase in the number of women applying for roles within the business and believes that this has a lot to do with the culture within the team.
“Encouraging diversity within Eather Group, including encouraging more women to join our team, is our focus through branding and our culture, making it known that we’re not just a diverse company but one that can support diversity too. We’re moving towards setting ourselves up as an employer of choice,” said Divinia.
“We want to attract talent who are already involved in what we want to achieve. We judge people on their attitude more than their current skills. “Bianca came into her role with limited truck and dog experience, but we sensed she’d learn and progress quickly because she’s got the right attitude. And in less than a year she’s become one of our top drivers.”
Bianca joined the company in March 2020. “The autonomy of driving a truck as well as having a strong passion for trucks is what attracted me to this career path. I’m very fortunate to represent a company who have a strong focus on diversity and have established policies that support women’s inclusion,” she said.
“I believe the key to attracting more women to the industry is by changing the narrative. Companies need to recognise the importance of implementing policies and initiatives that address a more transparent working environment. I’d highly recommend any woman considering driving a truck to give it a go. It’s both challenging and rewarding.”
Blu is newer to the team, having come on board in July 2020. She steers the company’s Mack Trident and brings with her a wealth of knowledge, having been a truck driver for the past two decades. And she is imparting that knowledge and experience with the rest of the Eather team, including Bianca.
“I am passionate about driving trucks, and working for Eather Group allows me to apply my professional truck driving skills,” said Blu.
“Eather Group is the first company to allow me to do this. I was working indoors as a lab technician for many years and was looking for a challenge, and I’ve now been truck driving for over 25 years.
“I have experienced a lot of changes in the big rigs, they are more modern and a lot more comfortable to drive now, you have everything at your fingertips, it’s like home away from home. I think it’s great more companies are wanting to employ more women in these roles. It doesn’t matter how big the rig is, it’s how you operate it.”
Though Eather Group was a really male-dominated company for most if its existence, which was completely by chance, it looks as if that may be changing – and Divinia is pleased to see it.
“As much as I don’t want to play into stereotypes, our supervisors love our female truck drivers because they really look after their trucks.
“Gender diversity creates a better balance too. It’s nice for me as well to have some older women role models in the company and women who have been in the industry for such a long time.”