At Art Processors, creating an inclusive and welcoming workplace that reflects the diverse cultural and tourism communities we serve is one of our core values. It’s also in our DNA: 58 per cent of our workforce have carer responsibilities as a parent or legal guardian. We’re committed to creating a supportive work environment that is respectful of our team’s life needs.
Our Parental Leave Policy goes above and beyond best practice, supporting parents in the first 12 months after the birth, adoption, or formal foster care of an employee’s child/ren. It provides the same amount of leave regardless of whether the employee is the primary or secondary carer and there is flexibility to enable apportioning leave.
The policy is inclusive, being offered to all caregivers, including single-parent families and same-sex parents. The definition of “parent” in our policy is deliberately open to include a parent by birth, adoption, surrogacy, and/or full-time ongoing foster care. In Australia, superannuation is paid for up to 12 months. This policy is complemented by further support, including breast milk shipping, emergency childcare, paid back-up carer’s leave, support for school holiday programs, meal and domestic support, health coaching, and access to CircleIn, a community that supports working families. Our Parental Leave Policy not only provides a clear statement of our commitment to being family inclusive, but has also empowered the parents on our team to make decisions about their careers that best support their families. This has allowed Art Processors to better support and retain working parents, and in particular women.
Parental leave policies that provide support for both parents can be a powerful tool for advancing gender equality, supporting women’s workforce participation and normalising the sharing of parenting and caring responsibilities. There’s so much in our policy at Art Processors that sets a new standard to not only support parent/s as they go through this huge change, but also close the gap on the financial disadvantage that women in particular experience when going on parental leave.
Our Parental Leave Policy has been very well received since its introduction two years ago, with several people on our team taking or starting parental leave in that time.
One of those people is Senior Exhibition Designer Tara McDonough, who is currently on parental leave and expecting her first child. According to Tara: “I was conscious that having a child could have a negative impact on my career. However, I’ve been so reassured by Art Processors’ commitment to supporting parents and families in the transition back to work. I discussed my concerns openly and was assured that I could take as much time as I needed following the birth of my child and also have the option of flexibility upon my return to work.”
We have also had positive feedback about the policy and our culture from people who have returned to work following their parental leave, including our Communications Manager Rae Morey: “I was able to decide when I was ready to return to work and there was no pressure at all. In fact, my manager and our Chief People Officer encouraged me to take longer if I needed it. It can be a confusing time returning to work after having a baby but everyone was supportive and empathetic and made sure I had everything I needed for a smooth transition back to work when I did return. Art Processors is leading the way in acknowledging the challenges of various family circumstances and providing policies and support that make a real difference.”
To produce our unique, progressive work, we need to hire the best talent from around the globe, regardless of location, age or family situation. Our commitment to creating a workplace that flexes with a person’s changing stages of life empowers our team to be the best version of themselves at home and at work. This not only enables greater productivity but also creates a happier workplace.
Being family inclusive has also allowed us to build a diverse representation of backgrounds and experiences in our teams. This diversity enables us to be more creative, and more thoroughly represent the diversity of our clients in the solutions we build.
We also believe being family-inclusive is an integral step in closing the gender divide. Our policies encourage everyone on our team to adopt flexible working arrangements and use leave to ensure responsibilities at home are shared equally.
Additionally, we believe having family-inclusive benefits and policies helps increase the proportion of women in senior and leadership roles. At Art Processors, our executive team comprises 62% females and 75% are working parents. This has helped foster a more inclusive, empathetic and flexible workplace culture, enabling our workforce to thrive.
Caitlin Kerker Mennen-Bobula is Art Processors’ Chief Client Services Officer. Caitlin has a flexible work schedule that allows her to block out time every afternoon so she can do the school run for her two young children. She also has the freedom to modify her schedule for appointments, meetings, and her children’s sick days.
This flexible working arrangement, which allows her to put her family first, was agreed right from the start of her time with the company. According to Caitlin: “Art Processors was clear from the outset that they embrace flexible working.” She believes it is a win-win for the company and her family. “By trusting me with my time management, I can meet my family’s needs while also giving 100% to my job. I no longer feel afraid to take time to be present for my kids. They are my priority and Art Processors knows this.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Caitlin took extra time off to home school her son. “Balancing remote learning and needing to have chunks of time to help my 8-year-old do his lessons from home was tough. Even once he was back in school, the day was shortened and we needed to pick him up early. During the pandemic, the flexibility Art Processors allowed me was even more crucial.”
The set up works so well for Caitlin that she is an advocate of flexible working for all families. “That support and respect makes me even more committed to doing my best at my job,” she says. “I tell friends and family entering the parenting world they should always attend school events — you remember your two-year-old’s school birthday party for the rest of your life. The work happening that day, you do not.”