Respect in the Workplace with Santanol

Since the first early harvest of Sandalwood trees in 2014, Santanol has continued to transition its facilities from pilot to full scale, ensuring the supply of sustainable and ethical sandalwood oil to global markets.  

Alongside this operational growth, we have worked hard to establish a leading workplace where respect, diversity, and inclusion are part of the culture and are lived daily by our team.

The results of these initiatives are reflected in the diverse nature of our workforce which comprises:

  • People from 16 different nationalities;
  • 38% of the workforce is female, a 12% increase since 2020; and
  • Mercer’s first female Managing Director, Holly Birch, joined us in January 2023.

What do these initiatives include?

Diversity & Inclusion Committee

Formed in 2021, Santanol has an active Diversity & Inclusion Committee which meets bi-monthly and includes representatives from across the company. The committee’s definitions of key terms and explanation of its mandate was an important early first step and was communicated via company flyers and meetings.

Diversity was defined as “The extent to which our workplaces reflect the range of human differences representative of the labour markets in which we employ people”.

Inclusion was defined as “The extent to which we promote and sustain a culture of involvement; the deliberate act of welcoming diversity and creating an environment where all different kinds of people can thrive and succeed”.

The Committee provides an open forum and opportunity for engagement to improve communication, take active steps and track progress. This includes team communication, social engagements and training to raise awareness.

Melissa Cruskall, our Human Resources Manager reflects, “Employees that feel respected by supervisors and co-workers are proven to have higher job satisfaction and engagement as well as improved physical and emotional health.  The D&I committee has been a critical part of us engaging with conversations on respect in the workplace”.


In 2022 and 2023, our teams attended Respect in the Workplace seminars, hosted by national leaders and the organization White Ribbon Australia, on ways to promote diversity, inclusion, and respect in the workplace. This provided a forum to raise awareness and discuss practical ways to promote respect and stamp out sexual harassment.


Communication, whether it be written, in-person, or via video is key to promoting a respectful culture. Regular information is provided to employees on the resources available to them such as our Employee Assistance Program, our policies and government-led support services such as Lifeline, Kids Helpline, Beyond Blue, and 1800Respect.  

Policy Change

In the last two years, the Australian Government has introduced several workplace reforms to promote safety, particularly for women. These reforms aim to improve the safety and well-being of women in the workplace and to prevent sexual harassment and other forms of gender-based violence. Santanol has championed these reforms and implemented a Family and Domestic Violence Leave Policy in 2023.

Community Engagement

A culture of respect in the workplace reaches far and wide to our customers, suppliers, stakeholders and, importantly, our local communities. In 2022, Santanol partnered with one of its customers to promote education and skill-building opportunities for Indigenous students in Kununurra. We worked with and raised funds for Dismantle, a not-for-profit organization that runs a community engagement program for high school students called BikeRescue. BikeRescue is a hands-on mentoring program that partners youth workers with disadvantaged young people to build a bike to give away and a customized bike to keep. 

The feedback we received from the school was overwhelmingly positive. Teachers reported that students who participated in the program were more engaged and enthusiastic about learning, and many of them came out of their shells and built valuable skills in the process. Students themselves were excited about the opportunity to build their own bikes and learn more about bicycle mechanics, with many of them expressing a desire to participate in the program again.  

We are currently planning and raising funds to run this program in 2023.

Fostering Respect, Fairness, and Opportunities to Contribute and Grow

In 2023 we will continue to embed and roll out new and existing initiatives. At the same time, we are seeking out opportunities for learning and discussion to ensure we are doing all that we can as an employer to foster a respectful workplace.

Respect in All We Do

From the care we take in our plantations to the relationships we build with our team members, stakeholders and communities, Santanol is striving to embody respect in all we do. We look forward to sharing our progress.