Parental Leave: it’s all about equality for both men and women

Gary Wingrove, CEO, KPMG
Gary Wingrove, CEO

Today, KPMG Australia was awarded an Employer of Choice for Gender Equality (EOCGE) citation by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), which recognises employer commitment and best practice in promoting gender equality in Australian workplaces.

This is the ninth consecutive year KPMG Australia has received the citation, and I am extremely proud of this.

The EOCGE citation replaced the previous citation in 2014. It is aligned with the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 and reflects the change in focus of the legislation to promote and improve gender equality for both women and men, while recognising the historically disadvantaged position of women in the workplace.

A lot has changed for both men and women in the workplace and one, which is often in the news, is parental leave.

In 2013, the Australian Government asked the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, on behalf of the Australian Human Rights Commission, to undertake a National Review into discrimination related to pregnancy, parental leave and return to work after parental leave. The results are damning of a society which purports to value families.

The review found:

  • 49 percent of mothers reported experiencing discrimination in the workplace at some point during pregnancy, parental leave or return to work.
  • 27 percent of the fathers and partner respondents, despite often taking much shorter leave, also reported experiencing discrimination when requesting or during parental leave or return to work.

When we think of parental leave, most of us immediately think of women and certainly they are the majority, but many men also want to be closely involved in the parenting of their children.

These words are from a KPMG employee and father, Anthony Robertson. He says,

“How many men learn about their child’s progress through stories retold to them by their partner? How they learnt to hold their toys, rolled over for the first time, crawled for the first time, sat up for the first time?”

Maybe for some being told is enough, but for others it leaves a feeling that you are missing out. After the birth of my first daughter, KPMG’s parental leave policy allowed me to spend four months at home as her primary care giver with no financial pressures, forming memories for the rest of my life. Now, three years later, I am about to commence parental leave again.”

Being a ‘present’ parent is part of bringing our true self to our workplace, which is why KPMG supports all our parents to take parental leave, just as Anthony has.

The Human Rights Commission recommend four overarching principles for workplaces and government.

Principle 1: Understanding rights and obligations is the starting point

Principle 2: Dismantling harmful stereotypes, practices and behaviours about pregnant women and working parents is critical to eliminating discrimination related to pregnancy, parental leave and return to work

Principle 3: Strong standards and improved implementation drives change and helps to create productive workplaces

Principle 4: Ongoing monitoring, evaluation and research will help to shape effective action

I encourage you to read the full report and take action in your workplace as these parents and their children are an important part of our future.

Read the WGEA press release:

2015 leaders in workplace gender equality announced:
Focus on pay transparency and parental leave for dads

Feature Image: Anthony Robertson
© Rob Henderson

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