Sunday, November 11, 2012

Government Supporting Women in Leadership | The Hon Julie Collins MP

Minister For Finance And Deregulation. In 2010, the Government committed to achieving a 40:40:20 gender balance target on Australian Government boards by 2015 and is on track to meeting this target. A number of organisation have also been announced as affiliates of the network Australian Institute of Company Directors, ASX, Chief Executive Women, Women on Boards and Women Leadership Institute of Australia.

The Government has today launched BoardLinks, a proactive initiative to support more Australian women into leadership positions, including increasing female representation on public and private sector boards.

“We know that women are as equally skilled and educated as their male counterparts,” Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Senator Penny Wong, said, “yet they continue to be underrepresented on high-level boards and decision-making bodies.”

“Through the establishment of BoardLinks, the Government is taking concrete action to address gender inequality,” Minister Wong said.

BoardLinks will provide more opportunities for women to be appointed to their first board, to launch and further their directorship careers. It will also facilitate training, mentoring and support.

“One of the most significant hurdles facing women being appointed to boards is a requirement for prior board experience. However this can be self-perpetuating because too few women hold board positions to begin with,” Minister for the Status of Women, Julie Collins MP, said.

“That’s why BoardLinks’ first focus will be on appointing women to their first government board role, thereby expanding the pool of women who can be appointed to board positions in the corporate sector.”

Currently, just 14.6 per cent of board positions in ASX top 200 companies are held by women.

In 2010, the Government committed to achieving a 40:40:20 gender balance target on Australian Government boards by 2015 and is on track to meeting this target. As of 30 June 2011, women held 35.3 per cent of government board positions.

Business leaders have put their support behind BoardLinks, with five Champions of the network announced at today’s launch – CEO of ASX, Elmer Funke Kupper; Chair of Coca-Cola Amatil and the Future Fund, David Gonski AC; Westpac CEO, Gail Kelly; Telstra Chair, Catherine Livingstone AO; and Chair of Women Leadership Institute of Australia, Carol Schwartz AM.

A number of organisation have also been announced as affiliates of the network – Australian Institute of Company Directors, ASX, Chief Executive Women, Women on Boards and Women Leadership Institute of Australia.

For more information about BoardLinks, please see the attached summary, or contact Evelyn Ek on 0412 887 853.

Government Supporting Women in Leadership

Joint Media Release With: 
Senator The Hon Penny Wong
Minister For Finance And Deregulation

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Social revolution at work: mums go back to their jobs as reality hits home

Mother of two Jacqui Clark, with her four-month-old son Angus, at her home in West Pymble, Sydney. Jacqui plans on only taking seven months maternity leave. Picture: Dan Himbrechts Source: The Australian
ALMOST half of all mothers in two-parent families are back at work before their youngest child turns one, completing a social revolution that has seen the dividing line between home and career disappear in less than a generation.

The proportion of stay-at-home mothers with a child aged less than one year old dropped from 57 per cent in 2006 to just 52 per cent at the 2011 census. By contrast, the figure for single mothers edged down from 74.9 per cent to 73 per cent.

Almost all the mothers who went back to work in this period took part-time jobs with fewer than 25 working hours a week.

On present trends, a majority of mothers in couple relationships with a child under one will be in the labour force - either in work or looking for it - by next year. A clear majority is likely to be in work by the time of the next census in 2016.

The exclusive official data, commissioned by The Australian, confirms why childcare is a hot button issue in the community as an increasing number of families compete for places for their babies, who require a greater level of one-to-one attention. Mother of two Jacqui Clark took only seven months maternity leave when her first child, Olivia, was born last year. The 42-year-old gave birth to her second child, Angus, in June and plans to return to work by next February, four months before her son's first birthday.

Ms Clark said that in the mid-1970s her mother waited until both her children had started school before she returned to the workforce.

"There are a number of reasons I chose to go back so quickly, but the first one is probably the mortgage and cost-of-living pressures," Ms Clark said.

"We don't go without things, but at the same time it is also a struggle to make ends meet, with increased electricity prices and for us to get ahead in life we both really need to be working."
Ms Clark said she and husband Bruce, a helicopter pilot - "middle-income earners" - met in their late 30s and it felt like they had been playing catch up since.

"We bought a house three years ago and we want to be able to renovate and do the things to be comfortable, but to do that we both need to be working," she said.

Ms Clark has a background in nursing and works full time for a biotech company, but said she would prefer to work part time and be able to spend more time with her children.

Olivia attends day care facility four times a week and once Ms Clark goes back to work Angus will be next in line. Otherwise, Ms Clark leaves the children with her mother or her husband, who works non-traditional hours.

"Ultimately it all ends up being incredibly expensive," she said. "I think it would be helpful if there were more childcare options; I think putting the pressure on other members of the family is difficult."

The Clarks receive the childcare rebate, but Ms Clark said her family would benefit from government subsidies for in-home carers.

"More and more, childcare spots are harder to find," Ms Clark said. "When I was going back to work the last time, I had to have Olivia's name down at three or four places."

The trend for mothers returning to work has accelerated in line with higher rates of female education and rising property prices.

The bottom lines are: this generation of women have jobs worth going back to and the typical mortgage requires two incomes to service.

The threshold between home and career has changed with each decade of deregulation.
In the mid 1980s, the majority of mothers in two-parent families waited until their youngest child was three before returning to work.

In the mid 1990s, the benchmark had fallen to two years.

At the 2006 census, the majority of mothers were back at work with a youngest child aged one.

This social revolution has left both sides of politics playing catch-up.

The Howard government was forced to switch its handout priorities from stay-at-home to working mothers in the last decade while the Gillard government's budget is stretched across childcare, pre-school and schools in this decade.

A remarkable feature of this shift is the global financial crisis in 2008-09 did not interrupt, let alone reverse, it.

The original tables were supplied along with yesterday's second release of material from the 2011 census.

The breakdown of work and family data shows about two-thirds of mothers with jobs are employed part-time while their children are in preschool.

By age three, though, more than half the working mothers are in full-time work. Sole parents are the exception to this pattern.

Most are still at home when the youngest child is aged 4-5

George Megalogenis and Sophie Goster
From: The Australian

October 31, 2012 12:00AM

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Our Interview with Caltex on their working parent initiatives

By Elysha Stephens

Caltex speak to us about their recent media coverage in the Herald Sun and give us some specific details of what they are doing for their working parents. Being a diverse workplace is very important to the company and they have recognised some of the unique challenges faced by working mums.

What are the initiatives you’ve recently put in place for your working parents?
We announced a package of practical and financial initiatives to help primary care givers transition back to work after having a baby. The package includes:
  • 3% quarterly bonus (a total of 12% per year on base salary inclusive of superannuation) to a primary carer once they return to work to help offset costs such as childcare up until the child’s second birthday
  • Up to $1,500 of emergency childcare through the Dial-an-Angel service
  • Specialist assistance to help parents identify appropriate childcare providers
  • Introduction of nursing mothers' facilities at major Caltex workplaces from 2013
What prompted Caltex to take these actions?

Caltex is always looking at ways to provide working arrangements that meet the needs of its employees as well as help the company achieve its goals. We try to provide flexibility and support to our employees wherever they are in life.

Many Caltex employees who have returned to work after caring for a newborn have identified that this transition brings with it a number of financial and emotional challenges. We announced in September a package to help these parents with this transition. This is tailored to meet the needs of employees as well as help support the goals of our business. We want to attract and retain experienced and skilled employees – this is just one way we can support this goal.

What did you already have in place prior to these last initiatives? I think you already had a paid parental leave policy and procedure in place?

Caltex already offered parental leave of up to 12 weeks on full pay or 24 weeks at half pay for the primary carer. We also provide flexible work arrangements to employees and encourage managers to discuss these opportunities with their teams. To support this, throughout 2012 we implemented a program aimed at developing manager confidence in rolling-out and supporting flexible work practices, dealing with ambiguities associated with flexible work and to challenge our managers to be more innovative in this area.

How have you seen it benefit your organisation? Your employees? Or if not felt yet, what do you hope to achieve in implementing these initiatives?

The initial reaction from our employees has been overwhelmingly positive. We are certainly very confident that this package will help support our primary carers transition back to work and that these benefits will be reflected over time. 

We also hope that, by attracting and retaining highly-skilled and experienced employees, this will contribute to the company’s long-term success. We believe in a diverse workplace – this should include women and men from different countries, cultures, ethnicities, generations and all the other unique differences in our backgrounds that make each of us who we are.

Caltex’s business strategy identifies being a highly capable organisation as a key source of competitive advantage, which requires a formidable, diverse talent base. To gain that advantage we intend to deliver an appreciable shift in workforce diversity and make genuine progress in female participation in senior roles. We hope that the Caltex  BabyCare Package will play a significant role to support that progress.

What difference do you hope to make to the working parent community, Australian organisations as a whole? i.e. other organisations hearing your case study and being heralded in the media.

We see this as an important step forward for Caltex as it seeks to be an employer of choice. The reaction from other Australian businesses has certainly been very positive. Other Australian businesses will make their own decisions about how to meet the needs of their employees. In terms of achieving gender diversity in Australian business, the general principle here is that the more flexible workplaces can be for everyone, the more likely women are to have the opportunity to play any role they choose.

Posted by: mums@work,