With the support of some of corporate Australia’s biggest employers including: AustralianSuper, BHP, KPMG, PepsiCo, PwC, Accenture, AECOM, NAB, Westpac, CBA, Schneider Electric, Cisco, Merck Sharp, Xero, and Aurecon, the co-founders of Diverse City Careers, Gemma Lloyd and Valeria Ignatieva, have built a thriving business placing women in jobs that offer flexible work arrangements.
Having both worked in companies that supported women and those which prescribed to archaic, inflexible policies, Ms Lloyd and Ms Ignatieva decided to launch a website that would ensure women had access only to the most forward-thinking and compassionate workplaces in Australia by introducing measures to guard against companies who are not truly supportive of women’s careers.
Ms Lloyd, whose career in the IT field spans 10 years, said her experiences taught her it’s often difficult to know how female-friendly a workplace is just from an interview.
“I’ve worked for some really good, supportive companies, but I’ve also worked with some archaic boys’ clubs, which I didn’t know were like that before I started,” she said.
“It was only after I joined the Committee for Females in Technology and Telecoms, a not-for-profit organisation with about 4000 female members, where I found women like me everywhere, who often had no idea what kind of workplace culture they were entering into.”
Ms Lloyd believes that flexibility in the workplace is one of the key elements to a good work culture, and is important for all employees – not just mothers.
“Flexible working is not just for mothers returning to work, but for those with other caring commitments, health reasons, sporting interests, people looking for an alternative to retirement and those pursuing side projects. Companies with the most engaged workforces offer flexibility, and are focused on creating an inclusive culture where the reason for needing flexibility does not matter,” Ms Lloyd said.
A Workplace Gender Equality Agency 2015-16 survey, which includes data from more than 4,600, non-public sector organisations with 100 or more employees, found that in Australia, just over half (53%) of employers have a flexible working policy, and just over a quarter (16%) have a flexible working strategy in place.
Flexible working hours are also essential to retaining good staff, who, while engaged at work, may not always be able to come into the office.
“From a DCC perspective, having a flexible workforce has enabled us to attract top talent nationally across Australia, whereas if we all had to work from an office, we’d be restricted in who we can hire,” Ms LlLoyd said.
“It’s also helped us with staff retention as one member who worked for us in Melbourne moved overseas. She’s still a DCC employee, but works remotely from a different country.”
This is supported by research by PwC, which found that increasing the female employment rate in Australia to match that of Sweden could result in a GDP boost of about $162 billion at today’s values over the long run.