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Influential women unite to inspire change for International Women’s Day

 

3 March 2014

New research shows 80% of Australian women believe their employer doesn’t fully accept flexible working conditions

Westpac Group’s CEO, Mrs Gail Kelly, has been joined by inspirational Australian women, CARE Australia CEO, Dr Julia Newton-Howes AM, former tennis world champion, Evonne Goolagong-Cawley, and YWCA NSW CEO Anna Bligh in Martin Place today, to encourage Australians to pledge to make positive change around gender equality.

In recognition of this year’s theme for International Women’s Day theme, Mrs Kelly unveiled a large-scale installation of the words ‘Inspire Change’ and personally pledged to lead change, with Westpac aspiring to reach equal representation of men and women in leadership roles in 2017, the year Westpac celebrates its 200th birthday as a company.

“Achieving equality in Westpac, and more broadly in Australia, is not just a matter of being fair or doing the right thing. It also makes good business and economic sense. Increased workforce diversity, not only in gender, but across a range of areas, translates to direct economic benefits like increased productivity, engagement and performance,” Mrs Kelly said.

“Westpac Group has a long history of supporting women in leadership, as part of our goal to be one of the world’s great companies for diversity and flexibility.”

Westpac Group has a number of market-leading practices which support it employees. As a result, 62% of employees currently participate in flexible work arrangements, with that number projected to increase to 82% by 2015.

“We know as a society that women face challenges when it comes to managing their work and family lives. We have a passion for building a work place that enhances employees’ capacity to achieve balance. This is being welcomed by both female and male employees,” she said.

New research also released today suggests there is still a long way to go in creating workplaces that allow women to fully participate in the workforce.

Westpac’s Director of Women’s Markets, Larke Riemer, said The 2014 Westpac International Women’s Day Report, surveyed 1,000 Australians and found that workplace flexibility (61%) and taking maternity leave (58%) are some of the top issues women currently face.

She said other findings included that the majority of Australian women believe their employers (80%) and male colleagues (79%) do not fully accept flexible working conditions.

“We know that women’s participation in the workforce has long term financial benefits, not only for the woman herself, but also for the economy as a whole,” she said.

“We must continue to do all we can to ensure not just business, but all of society, is focused on driving positive change.”
Ms Riemer said it was pleasing that the research showed 60% of Australians agree that women have more opportunities to succeed at work than they did five years ago.

Sydneysiders are invited to visit Westpac’s ‘Inspire Change’ installation in Martin Place to make their own pledge and start a conversation at work, home or in their community to help drive change.

All Australians are invited to join the conversation online, at www.rubyconnection.com.au or via Westpac’s Facebook (www.facebook.com/westpac) and Twitter pages (www.twitter/westpac) using #InspireChange2014.

Key Westpac Gender Diversity and Sustainability internal statistics

  • 42.4% of Westpac’s leadership roles are held by women.
  • Westpac’s uptake of flexibility has increased significantly with 62% of employees participating in flexible work arrangements today, up from 44% in 2010.
  • Demand for flexibility has also grown significantly with 82% of employees stating they will require workplace flexibility over the next three years.
  • Westpac has a number of innovative practices and policies which offer significant benefits for the support and advancement of female employees and encourage retention of high potential women.
  • Westpac Group was the first private sector company to pay Superannuation on unpaid parental leave in 2010. This is an industry-leading initiative which helps reverse the Australia-wide retirement savings gap experienced by employees. Paid parental leave has also increased to 13 weeks.

Key findings - The Westpac International Women's Day Report

Women’s Issues in the Workplace

  • Australian women believe workplace flexibility (61%) and taking maternity leave (58%) are some of the top issues they currently face.
  • The majority of Australian women believe their employers (80%) and male colleagues (79%) don’t fully accept flexible working conditions.
  • 60% of Australians agree that women have more opportunities to succeed than they did five years ago.

Westpac’s Director of Women’s Markets, Larke Riemer, is available to comment on The Westpac International Women’s Day Report.