Flexible working arrangements are being embraced by Woodside families.
The company strives to be inclusive in its thinking and working – and that means facilitating part-time work where appropriate and ensuring male employees are comfortable to take primary parental leave.
“The value proposition for increased male uptake in paid parental leave and part-time work is compelling,” says Rebecca Logan, global remuneration and policy manager. “It embodies inclusion and ensures equal opportunity regardless of gender.”
Although Woodside’s flexible working and parental leave policies are gender-neutral, there’s a perception that accessing these types of policies is more “acceptable” for female employees.
“Normalising these practices regardless of gender helps challenge the unconscious bias that can be a barrier in any workplace,” Rebecca says.
Woodside’s commitment to inclusion means examining options that suit both the business and employee, even if it challenges a few stereotypes.
That was what Matthew Zed, senior metocean engineer and father of three, discovered when he sounded out the prospect of taking primary paid parental leave in 2017. “Being a relatively young engineer, I was nervous about the connotations around my request to take this time off work,” Matthew says. “But I felt it was important to seize this opportunity – for myself to spend time with my children, for my wife to re-join the workforce and for the general health and well-being of the family.” Matthew says he was pleasantly surprised with the positive response to his inquiries. “There was just overwhelming support from my manager and from our business,” he says. “I was also able to see so many benefits, not only for myself in becoming interchangeable with my partner in caring for the kids, but also for the business in my improved ability to coordinate and multi-task.”
Thrym Kristoffersen, civil and structural engineering manager and Matthew’s manager, says he was completely comfortable with Matthew taking primary paid parental leave. “Reducing the perception that males can’t access flexible working options or parental leave is very important,” he explains “In my home country, Norway, it is common practice for fathers to take parental leave.”
Evan Faris, senior geophysicist, found that taking primary paid parental leave worked best for his family. “Having spent the past eight years on expat postings and travelling, my wife and I put having a family on hold,” Evan explains. “After moving to Perth and seeing how family oriented the lifestyle is here, we decided to have a family of our own.” Taking primary paid parental leave meant his wife Jess could continue her dentistry studies at the University of Western Australia.
Part-time work is another area considered designed for women but currently, there are about 37 males working part time at Woodside.
Senior climate change adviser Alex Hyndman is one. He works a “short” Thursday and does not work Fridays. “My manager has always seen that I care about my job and that I am passionate about what I do. Working part-time isn’t a reflection of disinterest in my work,” Alex says.
“I have two kids now and I want to be someone who takes them to school, sees them get upset. I want to see the boring stuff, not just the fun stuff.” It’s a life-work balance which works for Alex and his family and other Woodsider's are taking note.
Trunkline Q2 2018