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Gender equality a marathon, not a sprint says Deloitte CEO

9 December 2016: On the eve of achieving its 14th Employer of Choice citation by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), Deloitte Australia’s CEO Cindy Hook said that a greater concerted effort needs to be made by Australian businesses to ensure equal female representation in leadership roles.

“Many Australian organisations have realised that gender equality is more than ‘a nice thing to have’ – it’s the right thing to do, and a business imperative” said Cindy.

“At Deloitte, we view diversity and inclusion as central to our firm’s culture and our ability to tackle our clients’ most complex business problems. Being an employer of choice for women is one of several important components required to grow and nurture our firm’s rich diversity. The more diverse our people and thinking are, the better positioned we are to take the lead in reinvigorating professional services.”

Cindy notes that while targets are important and provide accountability, organisations need to focus on other ways to support women at all stages of their employment to ensure there is a healthy pipeline of female talent available when leadership positions arise.

“If we’re not supporting our women at important milestones in their career – such as removing bias from recruitment processes, or providing adequate support to help women re-enter the workplace after an extended career break– then how can we expect them to remain engaged and continue working for us, giving their personal best?” said Cindy.

“It is this holistic approach that will strengthen and broaden our talent pipeline, while giving all women the opportunities to achieve their full potential in the workplace.”

Deloitte has recently announced a pilot 12-week “return to work” program aimed at assisting seasoned professionals who have had an extended break for any reason – such as parenthood – in coming back to work.

Deloitte has also made significant inroads to support staff who may be impacted by domestic and family abuse, which can be another challenge for women in the workplace and to their career progression.

To accelerate progress on gender equality within the firm, in 2016 Deloitte has:

  • Announced Return to Work pilot to commence in 2017
  • Bolstered Domestic & Family Abuse policy and position, offering national workshops on White Ribbon Day
  • Implemented changes to Work Agility program, allowing flexible work arrangements for staff
  • Updated Paid Parental Leave policy, which can now be paid flexibly, and where two employees in a relationship and both working at Deloitte may now each access parental leave.

Deloitte joins more than 100 Australian businesses to receive the 2016 WGEA citation.

WGEA Director Libby Lyons notes that WGEA data shows that there is progress towards gender equality in Australian workplaces, but that it is still too slow.

“I congratulate all the 2016 citation holders for their commitment and recognition of the strong business case for gender equality. I hope to see continued growth in this community of leading practice employers,” Ms Lyons said.

Cindy welcomes the WGEA citation. “The journey towards workplace gender equality at Deloitte remains a marathon, not a sprint and by taking a more holistic approach, I hope to ensure that women at all levels within our firm feel supported and encouraged to achieve their ultimate potential.”

Deloitte’s performance on gender equality in 2016:

  • Four female partners in 1998 to 167 on 1 October
  • Of 58 new partners promoted in 2016, 33% promoted internally were women
  • Women represent 25% of the partnership
  • Women represent 42% of the Deloitte Board
  • 49% of experienced new starters are women
  • 48% of graduate recruits are women

Deloitte senior partner and Diversity & Inclusion leader, Margaret Dreyer, acknowledged: “Taking a view beyond gender targets and looking at real ways to support women during key milestones in our workforce has been a great area of focus for Deloitte in 2016.”

“Whether it is assisting working mothers in coming back to work, ensuring female job seekers receive an equal opportunity recruitment process, or by helping people who may be experiencing domestic and family abuse – our message and objective is clear: we want our women to feel valued and respected so that they are empowered to achieve and succeed without unfair barriers holding them back.”

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Adrian Letilovic

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