In December 2017, SPS partnered with The NAHRI Institute as a first step in developing respectful relationships around our reconciliation activities. Our Managing Director, Mark Nipper and HR Manager, Peta Nipper, met with Paul Poulsen and a partnership agreement was signed. This significant partnership enabled SPS to commence our educational journey into the Reconciliation and First Australians path. The association has also provided SPS with access to NAHRI’s partners in the employment space, and this has assisted SPS in one of our core focus areas for our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) journey.
The SPS RAP Team was created in October 2017 to ensure that a committee represented all areas of the business and considered all aspects of the company within the Reconciliation sphere.
Our Reconciliation Action Plan focuses on three main areas.
1. Education and Awareness;
2. Employment and Mentorship;
3. Procurement Opportunities.
1. Education and Awareness:
It became evident during our initial phase of investigations into our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people engagement levels that there was a significant gap between the perception and reality of challenges facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from our Management and current non-Indigenous workforce. There was a definite requirement to educate our management teams and provide awareness training on issues of cultural difference and the history and experiences of First Australians. Once our management teams were informed and educated on this topic, programs were then designed to flow through to our cleaning teams and other groups affiliated with SPS. In creating awareness of the barriers and cultural differences faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, SPS has developed ongoing support and mentorship programs that proactively develop and advance the employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
2. Employment and Mentorship:
SPS currently has 6% of our team comprising of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples. This level of engagement has been achieved without any dedicated effort to specifically engage Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people. While 6% is not an overly significant percentage, it highlights an area where SPS can provide further opportunity to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. SPS is placed to offer on-going entry-level employment opportunities to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. In addition to entry-level positions, SPS has a strong focus on career progression which can take an employee from a cleaning operator, through to Supervisor, Area Manager and beyond. We believe that if we develop a diversity program specifically targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander networks, our workforce will prosper, and we will be able to offer employment opportunities in the areas we deliver services. In doing this, we can identify and partner with like-minded clients to further expand our reconciliation influence.
To support the additional engagement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island employees, SPS will research in-house mentorship programs. It is hoped that by developing such a plan, our people will benefit from this, and their future employment prospects will be bright. Mentors will be able to identify cultural issues resulting in personal changes, changes in attitude towards co-workers, be sounding boards to listen to barriers and challenges and provide support to those experiencing difficulties.
3. Procurement Opportunities:
It became evident through various tender opportunities that the participation in advancing Reconciliation and developing a Plan supporting this was a pre-requisite for submitting a compliant tender. For SPS to remain a competitive National Contract Cleaning entity, our active participation in the Reconciliation journey is essential. We will be able to provide more opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people as well as assisting SPS to reach its strategic corporate responsibility and financial goals.
In addition to contract opportunities, SPS aims to align with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander owned businesses for the provision of cleaning and office supplies and employment placement assistance where possible. We hope that by working with Indigenous-owned companies, we can positively contribute to the ongoing success of these businesses and hopefully, the positive flow-on effect for both individuals and communities.