6 ways employers are raising the bar on gender equality

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2015 Employer of Choice for Gender Equality (EOCGE) citation holders are raising the bar when it comes to creating gender equal workplaces. Here are a few examples of how they’re doing it:

Tackling unconscious bias

Cars and IT: these two traditionally blokey areas come together at Carsales.com. However the leadership team recognise the value of having an employee profile that reflects the diversity of their customer base. Carsales.com has embarked on a journey to promote gender equality within their organisation and industry. A key feature has been unconscious bias training for the exec and senior leadership teams, with a view to rolling it out across the whole organisation. The training has opened eyes about the subtle ways gender bias can creep in to the workplace and has sparked a new process for reviewing job advertisements to make them more appealing to women and men – for example highlighting opportunities for flexible work and equal opportunity objectives.

Removing return-to-work barriers

Leading organisations are bolstering their efforts to make it easier for women to return to work after having babies. Maternity leave has traditionally been a danger period for losing employees as they become disconnected from the workforce and struggle to find childcare or negotiate suitable work on their return, which may be part-time. Caltex Australia has moved into the third year of its innovative BabyCare program and recorded an increase from 80% to 100% of new mums returning to work after parental leave. The program provides a quarterly 3% bonus for the first two years to cover childcare costs, assistance to find suitable childcare and paid access to an emergency nanny service. While not every new parent in future may want to come back to work, removing financial and care-related barriers makes a big difference.

Getting flexible 

Momentum is building around flexible working, with the recognition that both women and men may have caring responsibilities or other interests while still being committed to their work. Some organisations have moved to ‘All roles flex’ models – such as Telstra – and others are actively promoting flexible work through manager training and internal communications including video and poster campaigns. Suncorp has introduced a range of flexible work arrangements to give people a say over when, where and how they work – with 84% of employees saying they are now working with a degree of flexibility.

Setting targets

More organisations are setting targets to drive action on gender equality within their workforce. Engineering and construction firm GHD operates in traditionally male-dominated industries. They have set a target of a 40% female workforce by 2020, with at least 30% of professional and technical roles held by women. The target isn’t about preferring one gender over another, but rather introducing systems such as balanced shortlists for internal and external recruitment that allow women’s merit to be revealed. Setting targets has already made a difference, with an increase in female leadership appointments over the last six months in the company’s Australian operations.

Dads are parents too 

Parental leave has traditionally been treated as women’s business, but leading employers are recognising that true gender equality means recognising fathers as parents too. This year, there have been moves by several organisations to expand and promote their parental leave programs for men – in particular to encourage men to take primary carers leave. This gives new dads hands-on time with their babies and allows partners to share caring responsibilities. Under Lend Lease’s parental leave arrangements, each parent is entitled to 18 weeks paid parental leave as a primary carer at any point in the first 52 weeks. If they both work for the organisation they can tag team their primary carers’ leave to help manage childcare.

Recognising domestic violence as a workplace issue

There is a growing recognition among employers that domestic violence impacts the workplace and that policies to support employees experiencing domestic violence can make an important difference to their lives. Origin Energy recently implemented domestic violence leave that is uncapped depending on individual circumstances and doesn’t reduce other leave entitlements.

Source: Workplace Gender Equality Agency

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