At Accenture, we know that when our people feel supported to balance their work and family commitments, they are able to thrive and excel in all areas of their life. Our family friendly workplace culture has challenged the systems and stereotypes that often hold women back, to advance gender equality within our own organisation and more broadly.
Through the existing initiatives and policies, as well continuous improvement through the development of new policies and programs that better support our employees to balance work and family life, we are committed to delivering workplaces that are fit for purpose.
At Accenture we recognise that families come in all shapes and sizes and we are dedicated to creating a workplace that is inclusive and supportive of all family configurations.
We undertook a series of pivotal revisions to our leave policies in November 2018, including offering 18 weeks’ leave for new parents of all gender identities. We also ran a major internal drive to encourage fathers to utilise parental leave to help support their families as we know that normalising men being active carers is essential to achieving a gender equal family friendly culture.
When taking parental leave, the employee has the flexibility to take it in a manner that works for them and their family over the course of the child’s first two years– i.e part-time work arrangements, blocks of leave or concurrently with the other parents leave.
We offer support and flexibility throughout the pregnancy or adoptive journey by providing paid medical appointment leave to ensure our expectant parents are taking the time they need to seek medical treatment, guidance, or support during this important stage in their lives.
Our Accent on Families program is focused on supporting our parents and carers before, during and after their Parental Leave, by providing them with a consistent and supportive experience. This includes pre-leave workshops for expectant parents to help better educate them on our policies and support. It provides them with an opportunity to ask questions and connect them with others in Accenture on a similar journey. We recognise that reintegrating into work after parental leave takes time and for some can be a big adjustment to how they have previously worked. Our aim is to support our employees as much as possible to make this a smooth transition and new resources have been developed for our people to assist with the return to work process.
Through the implementation of equal family-friendly working arrangements for employees of all genders, we have increased workforce participation for women and caring opportunities for men as well as helping to reduce absenteeism, improve productivity and create a more highly engaged, motivated, and loyal workforce.
As a direct result of these changes, we have experienced a significant uplift in the number of male employees accessing parental leave, allowing families to share parenting responsibilities more equally. The number of men taking parental leave has dramatically increased as a result, reflecting a major change in attitudes and helping to pave the way to a more gender balanced workforce.
Over the past three years, about 1200, or roughly 24 per cent of Accentures 5000 employees in Australia and New Zealand, have made use of our Parental leave policy. Men made up about 58 per cent, or almost 700, of the parents who took the leave. This is a huge increase on five years ago when the number of men taking parental leave was 56.
Recently Tara Brady our ANZ CMD was quoted in the AFR saying ‘The availability of paid parental leave for each parent levels the professional playing field whilst improving the family work-life balance. If we are to achieve our gender equality goals, we need to provide an environment that allows families to make decisions around their roles and responsibilities both at home and at work’.
We know that there is always room for improvement and continually reviewing our support and our offerings available to our employees will ensure that we understand the challenges people are facing and help us ensure that we are doing everything we can so that everyone has the opportunity to bring their best self to work.
Offering an empowering environment that trusts employees, respects individuals and offers the freedom to be creative and to train and work flexibly brings with it a number of key benefits for our people and organisation.
It enables us to attract, develop, inspire and reward top talent. And it creates an environment that allows our people to perform at their very best and underpins a culture in which everyone feels they have an equal opportunity to belong and build a career.
We know that when people feel a sense of belonging, they feel validated, respected, and are more likely to feel at ease to open their mind to new ideas, new ways of thinking and are comfortable sharing them without fear of personal judgement.
Our progressive parental leave policy is really benefiting new parents as it enables both parents to be present and equal both professionally and in the family unit.
David Gatt, Digital Marketing Manager
I joined Accenture Interactive in 2014. I was pretty nervous about what it would be like being one of around 300,000 employees globally at this time. But, almost immediately, I saw the benefits. Accenture has amazing people policies which I was soon able to take advantage of to help out in my new family situation: in the space of a year we’d got a dog, bought a house in the Dandenong Ranges in outer Melbourne and had a baby.
When our son, Wilder, was six months old, I was able to take 4.5 months paid parental leave. To my surprise, parental leave turned out to be a gift – so much so that I took another 4.5 months with our second son, Leon. I’m forever grateful that I’ve been able to create memories with my two boys during their baby years. It really helped me build a deeper connection with them both. Having those months to just focus on them without worrying about work was incredible – a moment in time I’ll never forget.
This last year, with two kids under two during Melbourne’s lockdown – and my wife being a frontline worker – has certainly had its ups and downs. The kids have no concept of you ‘not’ being available. I’ve had my two-year-old attend client workshops and take centre stage on work calls.
In all honesty, my wife and I are not sure how we’d have made it through without the support of Accenture. The flexibility you get is amazing. Accenture has even supported me to become a fully operational firefighter for Victoria’s Country Fire Authority (CFA). When the siren goes off, my clients and colleagues know I have to run because someone’s house is burning down! I’ve never come across another company that’s genuinely supportive of stuff like that.
Read David’s full story on our Get to Know Us Blog