Peoplebank's investment in gender equity includes progressive targets for women in management and leadership roles, as well as a planned development program - Women in Business - that runs across Peoplebank's offices in each of Australia's major capital cities.
Over the past year, the Women in Business program has encouraged women to participate in Peoplebank's Future Leaders program (60% of program participants are now women), as well as in formal mentoring (63% of mentees are female) and with access to female-specific networking and training such as the Women in Management Diploma.
The program builds on provisions addressing barriers to women's advancement: including up to 30 weeks' paid leave; external resources for women transitioning into and from leave and on-site support as required (in one office, this takes the form of a breastfeeding-friendly room).
The company also provides broader workplace flexibility, with staff - including a member of the Leadership team - taking advantage of opportunities to 'dial up and dial down' via flexible hours and working from home work arrangements.
Peter Acheson, CEO of Peoplebank comments, 'We're focused on achieving organisation-wide gender equity: firstly, because it's the right thing to do. Additionally, though, this program makes good business sense: because it is stimulating innovation and helping us attract and retain talented female employees.'
Acheson comments that a female-friendly workplace actively fosters women's engagement (that is, the employee's genuine focus on and enthusiasm for their workplace, work and fellow employees - a lead indicator of employee productivity and loyalty).
'Peoplebank's female employees' levels of engagement have risen by 10% in the past year.
This is manifesting as a rise in the number of women who return to work with us after maternity leave, either full time or with flexible work arrangements,' Acheson says.
Numerous studies have confirmed that companies with highly engaged staff typically deliver better business performance. For instance, Aon Hewitt's 2011 global study found that high-engagement companies' profit margins in 2010-11 were 22% higher than average, while low-engagement companies' profits were almost 30% lower than average.
'There's strong evidence that the smart business strategy is to improve the workplace for employees, and this means, in particular, improving opportunities for women,' Acheson adds.
Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA) Director, Helen Conway comments that Australian business leaders understand the citation is a major drawcard in the war to attract and retain the best people.
'The leaders of the organisations on this list recognise there is a competitive advantage to be obtained by employing a diverse workforce,' Ms Conway said.
'They are attracting women into non-traditional roles where there are skills shortages, reaping the rewards of increased retention rates, and realising the benefits of flexible work practices.'
Peoplebank has been voluntarily reporting to EOWA on its gender equity policies since 2006. The recruiter's inclusion in the 2012 EOCFW citation list enables Peoplebank to use the 'Employer of Choice for Women' logos for the next 12 months on marketing and other business documents.