12/03/2008 - 22:00

Plaudits for proactive work policies

12/03/2008 - 22:00

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Six Perth-based companies have been recognised for their initiatives to advance women in the workplace, joining 99 businesses nationwide as employers of choice for women.

Six Perth-based companies have been recognised for their initiatives to advance women in the workplace, joining 99 businesses nationwide as employers of choice for women.

Alcoa Australia, Chevron Australia, Churches of Christ Homes, Curtin University, St John of God Health Care, and the University of Western Australia have been acknowledged by the federal government’s Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA).

EOWA director Anna McPhee said creating equity for these organisations was about changing culture and breaking down employment barriers.

Employers had to meet several pre-requisites as a pre-condition for gaining the citation, though in many cases the selected employers exceeded the minimum.

For instance, they are required to offer six weeks’ paid maternity leave after 12 months’ service but in practice they offer an average 12 weeks’ paid leave.

St John of God Health Care has tailored its policies and initiatives to reflect its workforce, which is 85 per cent female.

The group’s human resources director, Ian Oakely, said the company conducted a work-life balance survey in October 2007 to assist with future workplace planning and policies.

“The survey showed an 81 per cent job satisfaction rate,” Mr Oakely said.

Registered nurse Odette Buzza, who has worked at St John of God for the past 10 years, said her current 4.30pm to 10.30pm shift was introduced by the nurse manager to give her more time with her family.

Mrs Buzza said the company’s strategy was to be accommodating and offer flexibility.

“I am able to work from home and they offer hours suitable for mums,” Ms Buzza said.

In 2006, Chevron Australia ensured women accounted for almost 50 per cent of placements within the company, and a spokesman said attracting and retaining a diverse workforce was simply good business.

“Diversity, be it gender, religion or race, is one of our core values and we actively embrace a diversity of people,” he said.

Hays was the first recruitment company in Australia to make it onto the EOWA list, and is the only recruiter to have maintained its status for the past six years.

Its initiatives include expanding its e-business and online training to enable women to work flexible hours, including from home.

According to Hays human resources director Sandra Henke, being recognised as an employer of choice meant the company was more likely to attract and retain the most talented staff.

“In the current climate where skills are in demand, candidates have a range of options when it comes to choosing the company they wish to work for,” Ms Henke said.

The University of Western Australia, which won a national leadership development of women award in 2007, has been awarded the EOWA citation for its seventh consecutive year.

UWA vice-chancellor Professor Alan Robson said the university worked proactively to ensure women employees felt supported and valued.

Alcoa of Australia has also been named an employer of choice for women for the seventh consecutive year.

Managing director Alan Cransberg said policies that had the potential to benefit all employees were being implemented as the company sought to address barriers to women’s full participation in the workforce.

“This is becoming particularly important as we are seeing different generational expectations in the workplace as baby boomers begin to retire and generation Y continue to enter the workforce,” Mr Cransberg said.

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