Fostering a diverse workforce at Origin


Origin Energy's Gordon Cairns calls out 'appalling' gender numbers in leadership

Equality of opportunity is first and foremost a moral and ethical issue," states Origin Chairman Gordon Cairns as he talks about diversity, cultural change and why it’s important for companies to foster a diverse workforce. "But the business case is also compelling. We’ve all heard the stereotypes - “women lack ambition”, “women self-select out of the workforce when they become mothers”, “women who work from home are not productive”. Men need to embrace and push for cultural change if we are going to shift the dial."

Flexible working

"While there is a lot of talk about flexibility, we need to stop thinking about it in terms of special treatment. Rather, companies should see it as an opportunity to differentiate themselves from others in a competitive jobs market. Flexibility is part of the employee value proposition and can attract talent to an organisation. We also need to counter the notion that working from home or working outside of the traditional 9-5 day is less productive - let’s start measuring in terms of output and outcomes, not hours in the office, because in my opinion, staff with so-called flexibility “privileges” can be more productive than a traditional 9-5 worker because they are trying to balance multiple commitments at work and at home. Finally, we need firm diversity targets, not quotas, and boards and management need to be made accountable."

Equal pay and senior women apointments

At Origin, the board has set three voluntary diversity targets and we report publicly on our performance every 12 months:
- Equal average pay for women and men
- Appoint more women into senior roles
- Improve our retention of women in senior roles

Behind each of these targets are policies and practices to support our managers to reach these targets. The great news is that last financial year, we reduced the average gender pay gap to less than one per cent and increased the proportion of women appointed to senior roles by 35.9 per cent, our highest result ever.

Still, like many other companies, we have more work to do.

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