OFFERING WOMEN flexible work practices is helping a growing number of companies to counteract the effects of talent shortages, according to Anna McPhee, director of the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA).
The talent squeeze is starting to pinch, she said, and along with increasing the representation of women at executive levels, many companies are offering extended career breaks, more opportunities to work part-time and increased provision of Blackberries and other devices to work remotely.
Companies are also beefing up policies to help attract and retain older workers and improve work-life balance as organisations use the family-friendly title to provide them with a competitive edge when it comes to securing the best and brightest talent.
A number of organisations have also introduced paid maternity leave and extended the duration of their existing paid maternity leave policy, McPhee said.
More than 130 organisations earned an Employer of Choice for Women citation from EOWA, gaining recognition for their efforts in providing a female-friendly workplace environment.
Law firm Maddocks was one of four law firms that were successful in winning an EOWA award. “The increasing globalisation of the legal profession has resulted in many junior and mid-level lawyers looking for experience in overseas markets,” said David Laidlaw, Maddocks’ chief executive.
“Responding to this growing trend, we encourage our lawyers who choose to practise overseas to take a leave of absence and return to Maddocks at the end of their time away.”
One-quarter of its partners are female, a proportion that is above the legal industry average, and more than 10 per cent of Maddocks’ staff use flexible work arrangements, including a number of senior staff.
Other winners included the University of Technology Sydney, which has achieved an equal representation of men and women in top-level roles, and Mallesons Stephen Jacques, which provides a long-term leave of absence to employees who wish to develop their careers outside the firm and who want to return to continue their career.
The Spastic Centre of NSW was also recognised for providing an opportunity for their staff to undertake international development assignments while on full salary, while EMI Music Australia have promoted, transferred or seconded 50 per cent of employees into other positions to enable them to gain further experience.
Churches of Christ Homes & Community Services benchmarked all their salaried positions against similar positions within the industry which led to a significant increase in remuneration for some employees, while American Express was recognised for providing an allowance for women in their final trimester of pregnancy to cover parking costs or, where parking is free, providing priority parking.