March 18, 2009

Flexibility Keeps Alcoa on Top Employer List

Alcoa has been recognised as an Employer of Choice for Women, by the Federal Government’s Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency, for the eighth consecutive year.

Executive Director of Human Resources Kim Horne put the recognition down to Alcoa’s well established flexible work arrangements and commitment to workplace diversity.
“Businesses which take the issues of work/life blend and diversity seriously will stand a far greater chance of attracting the right people who will be the best fit for the organisation and who are best placed to assist in delivering bottom line results,” Mr Horne said.
“Business sustainability relies on talented people, and so providing equal opportunities for women to realise their career potential have been fundamental strategies for Alcoa for many years.”
Alcoa’s return to work rates following maternity leave remain high at around 90 per cent with data suggesting that the organisation’s ability to offer part-time work for women returning from maternity leave has had a significant impact on the retention of women.
“Providing a workplace that is flexible and supportive for working mums simply makes good business sense,” Mr Horne said.
Information Systems Consultant Karen Wood has worked for Alcoa for 20 years and has two children: “I’m a single mum and it’s hard juggling two children, fitness routines for us all, and a household.  The arrangements I have in place with Alcoa give me flexibility and the ability to fit it all in.”
Experimental Scientist Wai Lim Kong is the carer of her elderly mother and said being able to work part-time in a supportive environment allows her the extra time she needs for herself and her family.

“If my mum has an appointment at the doctor and the appointment falls in my normal work time, I have the flexibility to come in for half a day and make up the lost work time another day, or work from home,” Wai Lim said.
Jo Ferrie, who is a member of the Corporate Affairs team, works part-time from home.  “I have dedicated days in which I am in my home office. I also log-on in the evening once my children are in bed to keep track of any developments and to complete any urgent work that may need a faster turn around than my two day work cycle.” 
“For the type of work I do, it doesn't make a difference whether I am in the office in a pinstripe suit or at home with my slippers on!”
Alcoa’s entitlements include 13 weeks paid maternity leave and paid paternity leave.
“60 per cent of our people have been with us for more than 10 years, which I think says volumes about the type of workplace we offer,” Mr Horne said.
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Media contact: Sarah Tempest – 0404 800 417

Example of Alcoa’s flexible work policies and entitlements:
  • Full-time employees, below management level, are offered one leisure day off (LDO) each month. If they do not take the LDO, they are paid out for those days in December each year.
  • 13 weeks paid maternity leave and paid paternity leave.
  • Job-sharing arrangements can be offered for some job roles.
  • Work from home arrangements. This is either on an as needs basis, however some employees work totally from home.
  • Alcoa is open to part-time arrangements for women returning from maternity leave.
  • Flexible start and finish times for some job roles. Alcoa has mutual trust with its employees. Those who take advantage of flexible start and finish times make up their lost business hours time by putting in after-hours work when their family needs have been met.

Background to EOWA Employer of Choice for Women citation
The Employer of Choice for Women citation is an acknowledgment by EOWA of organisations that are recognising and advancing women in the workplace.

The 2009 EOWA Employer of Choice for Women citation list features 111 organisations ranging in size and spanning across all industries.
To be recognised as an EOWA Employer of Choice for Women, employers on the list are required to meet stringent criteria which include offering a minimum of 6 weeks paid maternity leave after 12 months of service; providing the ability for female managers to work part-time; ensuring the percentage of female managers is the same or greater than 28% or the industry average, and ensuring a pay equity analysis has been undertaken and any gap identified is less than their industry average.

Organisations must apply for the citation each year.

For more flexible workplace stories from Alcoa - click here