At ANZ, we are focused on creating an inclusive culture in which all our people, including those with family and caring responsibilities, feel an increased sense of belonging and support. Joining the cohort of organisations seeking Family Friendly Workplace certification will help us identify opportunities to improve our family friendly workplace culture. We know that a family inclusive workplace improves the overall wellbeing of our people, their productivity and engagement. This will enhance our ability to attract and retain the best talent and make us a better bank for our customers.
On International Women’s Day in March 2019, ANZ launched our ‘Return to Work Program’, a recruitment program aimed at helping people (particularly women) who have taken a career break of two or more years, often to care for children, transition back into the workforce. The program in our Technology Division is focused on addressing the challenges of returning to work and is centred around confidence-building, support structures and flexible work options whilst growing our pipeline of diverse talent. The program is now in its third year after having appointed another cohort of diverse talent in 2021 in Australia, India and New Zealand.
We know that women make up more than 50% of the population and despite a 70% growth in information and communications technology (ICT) jobs since 1996, women account for only 16% of ICT roles, 26.2% of board roles on the ASX200 and just 10% of CEO feeder roles. We also know that the Technology industry offers diverse career paths, but women are missing out. The program has been designed to attract, retain and grow those people re-entering the workforce by offering two paid and flexible employment options. The first is a 20 week fixed term contract and the other is a supported hire into a permanent role.
As part of the application process, ANZ seeks to understand the applicants’ past work experience, skills and motivations, as well as the flexibility they are seeking. We specifically ask what the applicants need to ensure their transition back into the workforce is as seamless as possible, essentially asking ‘how can we make work, work for you?’
Our Return to Work Program gives people the opportunity to refresh their skills in a supportive environment with leaders, mentors and colleagues, while being competitively remunerated for the value they bring.
The Return to Work Program has been a huge success and is now into its third year. Using recruitment methods focused on genuine connections, the initial launch of the program in 2019 generated a considerable response with over 640 applications received within three weeks. In 2021, the campaign exceeded expectations with over 1500 applications received. We’ve seen a staggering 95% talent retention on the program and received an overwhelming response to deliver the program in both India and New Zealand.
We have had a number of great examples, highlighting the success of this program with two such examples below:
(i) After having a career break of 3 years, Tracy decided she was ready to get back into the workforce. She previously worked in Testing roles and wanted to continue in that space, however, she wanted to return to work part-time. The biggest challenge she found was trying to find part-time work in IT. There were just not a lot of part-time jobs advertised.
Tracy applied for the Return to Work Program because it supports flexibility and she felt that ANZ would understand her situation returning from a career break. She had also heard from a former colleague about ANZ’s positive culture that allows you to thrive. Being out of the workforce for 3 years, Tracy felt nervous about returning to work and worried how she would juggle both work and family. She found the program helped her feel at ease and supported in her journey back to work. It was great meeting other women in the same situation and having each other for support. Having training and guest speakers included in the induction process was beneficial in easing back into work. Tracy has now progressed her Technology career at ANZ into more senior roles and is now leading a chapter of great technical talent.
(ii) Helena had been off work for 2 years to raise her son when she started thinking about returning to work, to have more balance in her life. She had low confidence after being out of the workforce for so long but the Return to Work Program helped her settle back in quickly and she learnt a lot about herself and her capabilities. She feels the ANZ workplace is particularly collaborative which really helped her transition into the workforce easily.
Helena is now leading change and communications engagement initiatives within our technology employee experience team, which is helping our employees connect, collaborate and deliver across ANZ.
The key business benefits we see from being a family inclusive organisation is increased productivity and engagement of our people. Retaining the skills of ANZ’s employees, at every stage of their life journey, from parenthood to caring for elderly relatives or people with a disability, is critical to our strategy. It helps us to attract and retain top talent, and gain access to previously untapped or under-represented talent pools including parents returning to work from parental leave, parent/elder carers, people with disabilities, remote/regional workers, and older workers. It allows us to continue to strengthen our reputation as an inclusive employer of choice, where we respect and support our people in achieving their goals both inside and outside of work.
Creating a family inclusive culture, where flexibility is the norm and actively sought by leaders and line managers, is a means of increasing engagement, productivity and innovation.
Habib Ajaka is a senior people leader in our Institutional business who leads a client-facing Transaction Banking Sales team. Over the last two years, five men in Habib’s team have utilised ANZ’s Parental Leave Policy to become the primary carer over a 12-week period, supporting their partners’ transitions back into the workforce, following the birth of their child.
One of those people is Darren Ellison, a Director in our Financial Institutions business. In 2018, Darren had been working for ANZ in the UK for four years when he and his wife decided they wanted to start a family. His people leaders were supportive of his plans to relocate home with ANZ and helped him secure a role based in Australia. His son, Charlie, was born six weeks after his return to Australia, and Darren took three weeks’ parental leave to care for his wife and son. When his wife later returned to work, Darren requested a further period of parental leave to bond with his son.
Habib was delighted that Darren was taking the time to focus on his son and Darren says the bonding of that time carries over now that his son is almost three years old. Darren says his career progression and pay have not been impacted by his decision to take parental leave and he has had the opportunity to learn and grow as an individual.
As a father of three himself, Habib role-models the importance of sharing care of his children together with his wife (who also works in a corporate environment) by either coming in late after school drop-off / leaving work early to do school pickups or attending various school events. He is a self-professed “massive supporter of co-parenting and working dads using these opportunities to bond more with their children”. Habib has actively encouraged men in senior banking roles to adopt the same attitude when considering flexibility options to care for their children.