From the National Director
NAWO e-newsletter Issue 2, April 2016
“Through our events and programs we endeavour to help our member organisations identify the practical actions they can take to make an immediate difference in this space. Role modelling from Senior Leaders (yep, the good old ‘walk the talk’) comes out as the #1 game changer. Senior Leaders who role model the attitude and behaviours they want to see as part of their workplace culture drive change.”
Practical, pragmatic leadership actions.
There have been some stand out examples of practical actions some of our NAWO member organisations are taking to retain female talent. Just one example is Silver NAWO member PepsiCo receiving an Employer of Choice Citation from WGEA for actions to promote gender equity.
WGEA has identified 6 areas in which smart businesses are taking action to retain their female talent:
Tackling unconscious bias: Initiating training for executive and senior leadership teams and then cascading through the organisation helps unveil subtle gender bias and identify opportunities for improvement. Incitec Pivot actively supports male leaders in managing and mentoring their female high potentials – instead of assuming they have the skills to be successful in this important role, they provide them with structured support.
Removing return to work barriers: Initiatives that reduce financial and care related barriers to returning to work are making a huge difference. Dulux has a support program and individual coaching in place to actively support the transition to and from maternity leave.
Similarly, redirecting focus from ‘Mums’ to ‘Parents’ – 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, and expanding and promoting their parental leave programs for men.Encouraging men to take primary carers’ leave gives new dads hands-on time with their babies and allows partners to share caring responsibilities. Grace Papers is an organisation dedicated to helping parents and organisations navigate pregnancy, career and return to work and NAWO is proud to partner with Grace Papers to offer NAWO members a 10% discount on Grace Papers Programs. These programs are accessible, affordable and add value, preventing the disruption that may otherwise occur when transitions are not well managed.
Getting flexible: Smart businesses are retaining their talent by recognising the fact that people have lives outside work and valuing outputs and performance over physical presence and hours worked. When people have more say in when and how they achieve outcomes they will, more often than not, perform more effectively. Telstra has taking a leading stance with respect to flexible work strategies with its “All Jobs Flex” policy, bucking tradition and asserting that all jobs are able to be worked flexibly unless there is a proven need otherwise.
Setting targets: 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 that allow women’s merit to be revealed.
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.
Gender pay Equity: The Finance industry has again led the way with respect to superannuation contributions whilst on parental leave. Several NAWO members have made systemic changes to salary review to ensure women on leave do not fall behind during their leave periods.
Through our events and programs we endeavour to help our member organisations identify the practical actions they can take to make an immediate difference in this space. Role modelling from Senior Leaders (yep, the good old ‘walk the talk’) comes out as the #1 game changer. Senior Leaders who role model the attitude and behaviours they want to see as part of their workplace culture drive change.
I am very proud to be able to say that the examples of leaders walking the talk in our membership are numerous. Examples include;
- openly explaining to people when they are prioritising family, self development, networking or personal health above work and, as a result, granting permission to everyone else in the organisation to do the same.
- being more considerate in their setting of important meetings and conferences (simple things like avoiding school holidays for off-site leadership events or forums).
- taking an active interest in shortlists for key development positions and challenging the diversity on such lists.
- applying new paradigms around talent management and succession planning of ‘they are almost ready for the next step, what do we need to do to get them there’, or ‘they are almost ready for this challenge, what support do we need to put in place to ensure they are successful’ versus the old paradigm of ‘they are not ready yet’ and ‘it’s too risky to promote them yet’.
Our objective at NAWO is to provide specialised support to our individual members and leverage our multi industry network of member organisations to share ideas and solutions to female participation and career success. This newsletter is full of opportunities to expereince NAWO in action in the coming months – prepare to be inspired!