The Morrison Government’s expansion of its Career Revive program is supporting businesses to attract and retain women returning to work after a career break. Building on a pilot announced as part of the 2018 Women’s Economic Security Statement the latest expansion will reach an additional 60 businesses following a $2.6 million injection over three years in the Women’s Budget Statement 2021‑22.
Under the Career Revive program, KPMG is assisting businesses make appropriate cultural and practical changes to ensure they offer a more attractive workplace to female employees. The program will provide a specialist consultant to support businesses to identify workplace or cultural changes that will improve the recruitment, retention and promotion of women.
This may include improvements to job design, rostering and shift timing, establishing supported returner programs, and reviewing and improving an organisation’s recruitment and promotional processes to be more gender inclusive.
Importantly the expansion of the Career Revive program includes businesses that operate within industries that experience higher levels of gender segregation such as Mining, Construction, Manufacturing and Wholesale Trade.
Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business, Stuart Robert, said supporting women’s participation in the workforce was vital both to support Australian women realise their aspirations and drive Australia’s economic success.
‘When women’s individual economic security improves, their participation in work and leadership has important flow‑on benefits not just for themselves, but for their families, communities, business and the national economy,’ Minister Robert said.
‘We want every single woman in our country to get ahead through realising their aspirations but it is clear they face real barriers, which not acceptable and it is holding us all back.
‘That is why efforts like Career Revive are so important, it is helping Australian businesses identify the barriers women face and address them - the data is clear when you drop barriers for women your business will benefit.
Minister for Women's Economic Security, Senator Jane Hume, said the initial Career Revive pilot was announced as part of the 2018 Women’s Economic Security Statement to support women reaching their true potential.
‘In 2018, KPMG estimated that halving the gap between men’s and women’s workforce participation in Australia would produce an additional $60 billion in GDP by 2038, and cumulative living standards would increase by $140 billion,’ Minister Hume said.
‘From 2019 the pilot program supported medium‑to‑large regional businesses across a diversity of industries and locations to attract and retain women returning to work after a career break.
‘As our economy recovers from COVID‑19 it’s vitally important that we make the most of our productive resources - and that must include our female workforce which is one of the best educated in the world.’
‘Equally as important as the economic imperative, the expansion of this program is part of the Morrison Government’s ongoing commitment to provide Australian women with the choices and chances they expect and deserve, and remove barriers for women returning to work.’
Kathy Hilyard, the KPMG partner delivering the Career Revive Program, said the program acknowledges the system‑wide issues that prevent many women from returning to work after taking a break from their career.
‘We see very clear potential for the government to expand this program, changing the dialogue about workforce, structures and culture of work in our country does require focus, innovative solutions and the mobilisation of leaders across different sectors. The Career Revive model has potential to support this at a much greater scale in a diverse range of areas.’
Ms Hilyard, who will be facilitating a ‘Women at Work Forum’ as part of the expanded Career Revive Program, noted while there were lessons to be learned from the COVID‑19 pandemic, doing the work to support women was fundamental to foster talent within businesses.
‘If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that an aptitude for re-invention is one of the greatest skills that an organisation can foster. The businesses that were able to thrive demonstrated the cultural and structural ability to innovate and adapt amid disruption,’ she said.
‘We are seeing from sectors like engineering, that the future of talent management rests on businesses, peak bodies and communities working together to foster and nurture ‘talent ecosystems’ creating new and diverse pathways to employment.’
To date the Career Revive program has supported 18 businesses with another 12 currently in the third year of the pilot. The actions and solutions that CR has facilitated are diverse and grounded in the levels of maturity and capacity of businesses to implement.
In May 2021, the Department of Education, Skills and Employment selected 19 businesses for the 2021 intake. Key selection criteria included industry, size, location and capacity to implement changes to support women in the organisation.
More information on Career Revive, including the businesses selected for the 2021 intake and case studies of businesses that have participated in the program, can be found at the Department of Education, Skills and Employment website.
To date the Career Revive program has supported 18 businesses with another 12 currently in the third year of the pilot.
Activities delivered through Career Revive include:
- Introduction of supported returner programs
- Cultural change, practical strategies that have improved the “female friendliness” of the physical and social environment
- Implementation of flexible working arrangements
- Changes to attraction and recruitment activity
- Improved diversity and inclusion metrics and strategy
- Leader sponsorship and increased focus on modernisation
- Changes in performance metrics
- Partnerships between business and peak bodies to create new pathways to employment
- Community based business forums to share intelligence and create community driven solutions to factors that prevent women from accessing employment locally
- Employer-based child care services, increased numbers of female employees in key roles
Encompass Community Service
Encompass Community Service is a disability Employment Service based in Geelong. Prior to joining the program, Encompass had been working to overcome the many workforce challenges present in the disability sector, including challenges attracting people to work in the sector, a highly transient workforce, and the potential for burnout of staff.
The Career Revive Program prompted Encompass to reassess its approaches to attraction, retention and engagement, striking a significant shift in the mindset of leaders and staff. The organisation is undertaking new recruitment approaches and applying a more targeted strategy to fill specific positions.
Encompass plans to pilot a Returner Program, to create a pathway to entry for women seeking to become disability support workers. The pilot will be the first of its kind for the disability sector, and unique to the Geelong region. The intent is to expand the pilot will to run every six months.
Sustainable forest grower and timber products company OneFortyOne (OFO) is one of the largest private employers in the Mount Gambier region, employing close to 350 employees in the Green Triangle.
Leaders at OFO were galvanised to engage in the Career Revive initiative, to help to combat the low representation of females in the forestry and timber industry.
Conversations about the work environment needed to support and enable staff to thrive, with a specific focus on workplace flexibility and the development of a Supported Returner Program for women transitioning back into work, adapted from the work experience program for its Drymill have been key features of the OFO Career Revive program. OFO plans to expand its Returner Program over time.
OFO employees note that the Career Revive initiative has supported a fundamental shift in the way that organisation approaches its diversity and inclusion agenda, helping to reposition inclusion as a strategic focus area.
PinnacleHPC (PHPC) is an accounting firm based in Griffith.
PHPC said Career Revive has helped it to create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce. One of its priorities was to improve experience of female staff returning to work after maternity leave.
After consulting female staff, PHPC:
- established a safe, private and hygienic personal room for mothers, allowing them to continue to breastfeed or express milk
- introduced leave for neo-natal appointments, and
- implemented new family friendly workplace policies.
More case studies are available on the Department of Education, Skills and Employment website.