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Keys to Inclusion: Respect and Listening

02 JANUARY 2023

By encouraging participation, promoting respect and listening to people’s point of views, Alex Thimm strives to create an inclusive working environment. Alex is a Superintendent Technical & Support at our South32 Worsley Alumina operation in the South West of Western Australia.

This year Worsley Alumina announced the inaugural Worsley Inclusion Awards (WIN). These Awards recognised people in our business who are going above and beyond to create an inclusive work environment for all. Today we're pleased to share WIN Award Nominee Alex Thimm's story.

Alex believes that by ensuring everyone feels included and comfortable to contribute, while respecting each other, then achieving diversity becomes a natural outcome.

“Sometimes when we talk about diversity, some people may feel like they’re not part of that conversation, but by focusing on listening to people and including everyone, then regardless of who you bring in to the team, they will feel comfortable and included,” Alex said.

“While this has a benefit to the business, it’s more about doing the right thing by being fair and respectful.”

Alex believes it is important to role model these behaviours, rather than aiming to meet certain standards.

“It takes some time, but if you consistently demonstrate these things, people see what you do and it builds trust.”

Alex says its also important to get a balance of views in team discussions, by ensuring everyone’s view is heard which creates a consistent and comfortable way of working and eventually becomes the norm.

Above: Alex Thimm and Lucy Pluschke

He also believes in providing opportunities for people to work in different roles across the four different areas supported by the Bayer Technical team.

“Sometimes it’s not ideal timing with our workload, but it’s important to create these opportunities and sometimes put this ahead of the work,” Alex said.

“Initially there can be a bit of apprehension to move roles, particularly from people who have been doing a job for a long time because change and new challenges do cause some stress, but the more people feel supported, the more people are willing to do it.

“There is no expectation for them to have the same expertise as they had in their old role and there is no judgement while they are learning new skills.

“These opportunities develop people, engage them and foster good team work while helping to avoid silo mentality. So far about half the team has taken on new roles in the last 18 months.”

Alex also supports flexible working to achieve a work-life balance, team building activities and sharing ownership across the team.

“Taking ownership promotes action and engagement and sharing that ownership promotes teamwork and collaboration. Worsley relies on us all working together to elevate our standards and improve.”