A commitment to flexibility has helped a Queensland employer more than double its maternity leave return-to-work rate to 94 per cent.
All workers returning from maternity leave who request part-time as opposed to full-time work get it, Cancer Council Queensland's (CCQ's) executive manager of HR, Cherie Everett, told HR Daily, whether they're employed in junior positions or at the executive level.
Many employees also have the opportunity to work at home, to work flexible hours, or to job share.
In addition, Everett says, CCQ has increased paid family leave, which is available to both male and female staff, from six weeks in 2005 to 14 weeks. Employees on leave are kept "in the loop" through an intranet system, and are invited to briefs and functions.
CCQ's flexible workplace culture is part of a broader strategy to retain and attract talented female staff and to advance equality in the workplace, Everett says.
And key to the strategy's success, she says, was the founding of an HR department in 2004.
The HR team set up frameworks that support management in determining and fulfilling the organisation's goals, Everett says.
The return-to-work from leave rate has more than doubled (from 46 per cent in 2004), she says, because there is now a "sense of community within the organisation" through which employees "enjoy the flexibility and support they're given".
The not-for-profit organisation also:
conducts annual salary reviews across the breadth of the organisation to identify differences between male and female remuneration.
The overall gender pay gap within the organisation is now 4.3 per cent, compared to the ABS all-industry average of 17 per cent, and the health and community services industry gap of 31.1 per cent;
uses a transparent and merit-based recruitment process, with all interview panels including at least one female member;
moves female casual staff rapidly to permanent part-time or permanent full-time positions where possible;
fills about a third of its executive positions through internal promotion; and
conducts an annual staff survey with results presented to all employees.
In 2008, 90 per cent of staff reported a high level of job satisfaction, and 85 per cent attested to a satisfactory work/life balance.
Information and computer technology giant Dell Australia has also seen promising returns from its long-term strategy aimed at attracting and retaining female talent.
Participants in its Women in IT Executive Mentoring (WITEM) program - a key part of the strategy - have reported receiving greater leadership perspective and skills, advice in effectively "managing up", and the opportunity to build internal and external professional networks, says WITEM program manager, Nicole Gemmell.
The aim of the mentoring program, Gemmell told HR Daily, is to accelerate the development of leadership skills among women in the IT industry, in which only 15 per cent of workers are female. It combines one-on-one mentoring with "cross-organisational learning and facilitated group networking".
Dell Australia and other organisations participating in its program, Gemmell says, are benefiting from:
increased loyalty and commitment from mentees;
an increased contribution from mentees through higher levels of performance;
improvements in the performance of a mentee's team; and
the sharing of ideas and learning from senior leaders in organisations outside of their own.
Half of Dell's senior leadership team are now women, Gemmell says.
Dell last year won the EOWA prize for "outstanding initiative" for its WITEM program.