Gender equality now closer to reality at Dow

Monday, 12 December, 2016

Gender equality now closer to reality at Dow

Dow Chemical Australia has prioritised greater gender equality in its workplaces and has subsequently been named the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) Employer of Choice for Gender Equality.

In 2015, Dow undertook company-wide research to determine how it could best support workplace flexibility. The company actively sought employee involvement to develop company policy and make some meaningful long-term changes.

“WGEA data shows there is progress towards gender equality in Australian workplaces, but it is too slow. It is only through more employers adopting leading practices to promote gender equality in the workplace that we will see the pace of change pick up,” said WGEA Director Libby Lyons.

“That’s why it is so encouraging to see Dow, amongst more than 100 organisations, meeting the very high standard required to receive the WGEA Employer of Choice for Gender Equality citation this year.”

Dow Australia and New Zealand Regional President Tony Frencham said he was extremely proud to accept the WGEA citation as an Employer of Choice, as it provides recognition of the priority the company has placed on gender equality and workplace diversity.

“Listening was the first step. At our ‘Listen and Learn’ sessions, Dow employees revealed workplace flexibility, improved parental leave support and addressing unconscious biases were our top three opportunities to support gender equality at Dow,” Frencham said.

“56% of our employees already work flexibly. When we asked them why they want to work flexibly and what we can do to support them, 61% cited ‘work-life balance’ and one-third said they needed flexible work to address primary care responsibilities.”

The listening process then informed Dow’s ‘We Can Flex’ program, designed to encourage working flexibly. This program is being rolled out across Dow ANZ. The program addresses cultural barriers by creating expectations between employees and their supervisors that they can have discussions about flexible work in a safe and collaborative environment.

“We also understand that this starts at the top. 85% of those who work flexibly across all levels agreed that flexibility must be modelled by management,” said Frencham.

“Other Dow policy improvements are around parental leave, and unconscious bias is being addressed through training. Dow and other companies are collaborating with the Victorian Government on its ‘Recruit Smarter’ program, which employs candidate de-identification to remove biases from the hiring process.”

Frencham is a WGEA Pay Equity Ambassador, White Ribbon Advocate and a member of the Victorian Male Champions of Change convened by former Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner Kate Jenkins (and recently announced Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner) and seeks to bring external best practice in gender equality into Dow.

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