Caltex: Leading on Gender Equity

by Kimberly Gladman

It’s spring at GMI Ratings, which means we’re digging into a new crop of annual filings from companies in many of our major coverage regions. A highlight of this week’s research came from Australian oil refiner Caltex, whose annual report documents unusually strong efforts to support women in the workplace.  In the “Diversity” section of its report, the company reports 2011 and 2012 percentages for female representation among its board members (now 25%), senior executives (none in either year), managers (now about 20%), and employees overall (about a third). It discloses the results of its 2012 “gender pay audit,” which was “conducted to ensure unconscious bias has not influenced outcomes”:  it showed that male Caltex employees now make on average only .3% more than women for the same work, down from 1.7% in 2011.  And it describes efforts to promote flexible work arrangements, recruit and mentor women, and reduce voluntary turnover rates among female employees to the same rates seen for men.

Most impressive of all, however, are the measures the company is taking to address one of largest reasons women tend to leave their jobs:  difficulty in combining work and home life after they become mothers.  In October 2012, the company launched its “BabyCare Package,” which provides for the following in the first two years after an employee (apparently either male or female) becomes the parent of a child:

• A BabyCare Bonus – Caltex pays a 3% salary bonus each quarter to an employee who has been a primary caregiver, from the time the employee returns to work until the child’s second birthday;

• Emergency BabyCare – Each employee can access five “emergency child care” sessions per year, valued at up to $300 each, for ad-hoc childcare needs that come up related to work obligations;

• Long term childcare assistance-– Caltex has partnered with an external specialist to assist employees in researching childcare options and locating appropriate long-term childcare before they return to work; and

• Nursing mothers’ facilities – Caltex has committed to introducing lactation facilities at its key workplaces during 2013 to provide privacy for nursing mothers to breastfeed or express breastmilk.

All in all, it’s one of the more comprehensive approaches we’ve seen to retaining female talent, and allowing all employees to better balance work and parenthood.  With any luck, we’ll see Caltex’s industry peers start to take note, and follow suit.