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June 14, 2019

Gender diversity: it’s about men too!

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When Julie joined TransGrid, she was tasked with developing D&I within the company; an area of the business that was just beginning to take form.

“It was a really exciting time to join. The Board, the CEO and the Executive were involved with D&I. However, they recognised the need for a more strategic and measured approach – and I was appointed to make it happen.”

Julie says TransGrid has a diverse workforce in terms of culture, region, and age. However, gender representation has been a real focus since she started – and the proof is in the pudding.

“When I joined, TransGrid consisted of just under 20% female employees. A year and a half later, we’ve had a positive shift on a number of indicators – the number of women joining the company has risen – as has the number of women retained. Our hiring stats for the last year were 50/50, including at graduate level – so we are on the right track. I’m proud of our achievements – it’s been a team effort. We’ve overhauled our recruitment process and we’re holding our recruiters to account in ensuring a gender mix on all shortlists. We’re also changing how we advertise jobs to reflect this exciting time in our industry,” she shares.

Read on for Julie’s advice on promoting D&I – while engaging your male workforce, every step of the way.

1. Involve your male colleagues

When Julie joined TransGrid, there was a level of scepticism about the focus on gender, “I heard comments like, ‘Why more women? We need people of merit.’ There was a belief from some (both men and women) that if we were hiring women, it was because of their gender and not because of their suitability for the role. Nothing could be further from the truth. We do want to hire people of merit – but from 100% of the population – not just 50%! We MUST appeal to a wider audience or we will run out of talent!”

“D&I is as much about men as it is about women. I know I want to work in a workforce that supports both genders equally.”

Julie advises that the best way to bust myths about D&I is to involve men.

“The low female participation rates in this industry is not a problem for women to fix. Men are supportive, but don’t always know what they can do. We have had just as many men putting their hands up to be volunteers to assist with our gender-based sponsorships, scholarships and the diversity council – which has a 50/50 gender split”.

2. Open up comprehensive flexibility and parental leave to men

“We start from a position of “Yes” when we consider flexible work requests at TransGrid. However, there is still a lingering assumption that flexibility is for women with children. We promote flexible working as reason-neutral – it doesn’t matter what the reason is – and our policies and communication are beginning to change the way we do things. Senior leaders can work flexibly, and a large proportion of roles have a nine day fortnight as standard. A good number of men also take up secondary carer’s leave, and a growing number are taking up our Return to Work coaching program.”

3. Employ inclusive language

Julie emphasises the importance of being aware of your audience when promoting D&I.

“Our aim is to communicate to all employees – men and women. There’s no need to emphasise women every time. For example, if you’re posting a photo of a wonderful group of graduates (males and females), you don’t have to highlight the women – you can simply post the photo and celebrate the entire group. It’s about making equality the norm.”

4. Keep your activities visible

“I work with our internal communications team every day. Awareness is vital. We are relentless with updating everyone on our D&I activity. We began by measuring and reporting on the right things, and then ensured we were highlighting D&I successes through stories on our intranet. We also circulated case-study videos of a number of our employees who work flexibility. Role modelling flexibility is so important – especially our stories of men who work flexibly.”

Where to next, Julie?

“There’s so much to do, but it’s all positive and I just love it. We’re reviewing our parental leave offering, working towards becoming an employer of choice for women, and focusing on our Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan. But it’s good to stop and reflect on the positive impact and to see our diversity and inclusion strategy become embedded… It gives me immense satisfaction.”

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About the Author
WORK180 promotes organizational standards that raise the bar for women in the workplace. We only endorse employers that are committed to making real progress so that all women can expect better.

Looking for a new opportunity?

Our transparent job board only has vacancies from employers we endorse and lets you see what benefits, policies and perks come with the job.