Misa Han, 05 November 2015

In 2012 – the same year Julia Gillard gave her famous misogyny speech – Caltex started paying a 12 per cent bonus to mothers returning to work.

Three years later the ASX-listed company is repeating the benefits of its early efforts. Over the past three years, 100 per cent of mums, or 89 employees, returned to work after taking parental leave, up from 80 per cent in 2012.

Business development manager Mabelle Reyes and mother of 15-month-old Aria was one of them. The $500 government rebate and the 12 per cent Caltex bonus covers the four days of childcare for her girl.

“Anecdotally my experience is the bonus means mums are comfortable about coming back to work,” she said. “Most mums [outside of Caltex] come back part-time, generally for two to three days.”

Reyes works from home three days a week.

On top of the 12 per cent bonus, which is available to mothers until their baby turns two, Caltex offers 12 weeks of paid leave for mothers, 8 weeks paid leave for fathers and an emergency nanny service up to five times a year until the baby turns two.

INCREASED LOYALTY

While Caltex’s share price dwindled from $38.75 in March to $32.32 on Wednesday, human resources leader Alena Mackie said the company intends to keep the bonus to encourage mums to come back to work.

“It pays for itself in terms of increased loyalty and an increased retention rate,” she said.

With the generous package for mums, Caltex won the official stamp of approval from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency despite not having many women in senior leadership roles. The Caltex board will only have one female member when its chairman Elizabeth Bryan steps down on December 9.

Ninety employers won the WGEA Employer of Choice for Gender Equality citation this year, including the big four banks, Telstra and the biggest four accounting firms.

There are still some missing from the list, including Macquarie Group, CSL, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, the WGEA director’s former employer.

To be eligible for the citation, employers have to go through a reasonably complex process of answering 62 compulsory and optional questions outlined in a 31 page document.

The criteria include having a CEO who is a “visible champion of gender equality”.

Libby Lyons, a former BHP executive who got the top job at the WGEA in September, said the criteria was reserved for leaders of gender equality.

“We want to set a high bar and it’s recognises employers who are going above and beyond what is required,” she said.

Ms Lyons said to champion gender diversity, employers should make paid parental leave available to mothers and fathers and consider introducing domestic violence leave.

IT recruitment company Peoplebank won a WGEA citation. Chief executive Peter Acheson said addressing gender pay gap required a long-term effort.

“We’re not there yet. You’ve got to do it over time, to be honest. We can’t just adjust it today, particularly if the gap is reasonably substantial,” he said.

Extracted in full from the Australian Financial Review.

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