In November last year, together with the Executive team and senior leaders across the business, I made a personal commitment to accelerate gender equality at Vodafone Hutchison Australia. I’m pleased to share with you the ways in which we will continue to strive for gender equality at Vodafone Hutchison Australia.
In order to understand more about the opportunities for us to progress gender equality, we engaged Chief Executive Women (CEW) for advice. It found initiatives such as our market-leading Parental Leave benefits, flexible work options, Women in Technology working group, leadership development opportunities and STEM programs are all making a positive, meaningful impact to gender diversity within our company, but there was still more that we could do.
That’s why in 2018, we’ve committed to several new initiatives to help retain female employees, encourage them to grow and develop, and set women up for success through leadership development programs.
Inspiring female leaders through our Accelerate Conference
In April this year, we held our inaugural Accelerate Conference, in partnership with Inkling Women, with 100 of our senior female leaders attending. In preparation for the conference we had a number of leaders from each function, our Accelerate Champions, conduct focus groups with their teams to seek insights and perspectives on the organisational and personal challenges and barriers that women in leadership face. This information then assisted in the design and structure of the day.
The key aims of the conference were to develop awareness and understanding of Vodafone’s commitment to gender equality, to gain more of an understanding of what Vodafone can do better to support women (especially in the transition to senior roles), and educate senior female leaders on their ability to empower themselves and others to manage their careers and challenge the status quo.
The Accelerate Conference was a huge success and received lots of positive feedback from female leaders around the business. It was an exciting first step on our journey to achieving gender equality and our new Connected We Can network will also be able to use the insights and feedback from this year’s conference to continue developing our gender equality policy.
The launch of our Connected We Can network This year has also seen the launch of our Connected We Can network, which I proudly chair.
The network is a working group of employees across Vodafone looking at how we can enable gender equality at work by focusing on four key pillars:
The Connected We Can network has already developed a formal gender equality policy and strategy for Vodafone, and will continue to work to find solutions in each area to advise the business on how we can become even more supportive of gender equality.
Encouraging flexible working at Vodafone with “My One Thing”
Recently we launched an initiative for all our employees, encouraging them to think about their ‘one thing’ – something they will always make time for to bring balance to their working lives. For instance, some employees might leave early on a Friday to coach their child’s football team, or take a longer lunch break so that they can make it to their favourite gym class.
My One Thing is all about encouraging employees to have flexible working hours and ways of working so that they can make time to pursue hobbies, look after their kids, play a sport and other activities that help give them fulfilment. This is something that is relevant to all employees, not just women, and is part of enabling a workplace culture that allows people to bring their best selves to work.
Role modelling flexibility as a leader is critical to me and I hold myself and my leaders to account to support and demonstrate their commitment to flexibility. I see flexibility as key to allowing our people to manage their work and home lives to enable a greater sense of wellbeing and I think that, as leaders, we play a significant role in providing permission to our people to tap into flexibility.
For me, “My One Thing” is leaving work early at least one day a week to spend time with my wife and daughters. This quality time is so important not just to me and my family, but it helps me to do my job better because it provides life balance. Life balance is something I encourage all Vodafone employees to embrace.
Why are we making gender equality such a high priority at Vodafone?
We are committed to supporting greater diversity and inclusion at Vodafone for the key purpose of supporting our people to be at their best for their colleagues, the business and our customers, and we feel that an open, collaborative and inclusive culture is the best way to enable this.
Simply put, the more diverse our employee and workplace culture is, the better we’ll be at providing more relevant products and services to meet the needs of our customers.
As the father of two teenage daughters, one who is already in the workplace and one who will be entering in coming years, gender equality in the workplace is an issue I am personally very passionate about. I’m very proud of what we have achieved at Vodafone over recent years and I’m excited about the future.