How Stanwell is lighting the way to a brighter future for women

3 March 2022

At Stanwell, we’re working to help women build a brighter future from the ground up. From bridging the gender pay gap to introducing industry-leading parental care initiatives and implementing talent pipelines for the future, Stanwell is taking proactive steps to empower women and build a more vibrant and inclusive workforce – but there is still much work to be done in our business, our industry and our society.

Bridging the gap

The gender pay gap – the difference between women’s and men’s average weekly full-time equivalent earnings – is an internationally established measure of women’s position in the economy.

In Australia, the gender pay gap has hovered between 13 per cent and 19 per cent for the past two decades, and currently stands at 14.2 per cent, as calculated by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency using data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. This means that, on average, women earn $261.50 less than men.

In late 2017, Stanwell undertook a pay parity review across the company’s seven sites. The review identified a gender pay gap within Stanwell of 15.1 per cent – an unacceptable number to us.

In response, Stanwell People and Culture GM Brenda Carson says the company set an aspirational target to eliminate gender pay variance by 2022 as part of its five-year Inclusion and Diversity (I&D) strategy.

“Overall, there has been positive change across Stanwell since this I&D strategy was introduced,” Brenda says. “The gender pay analysis completed in October 2021 shows that there is no pay differential between men and women at Stanwell that cannot be explained by experience, merit, performance or enterprise agreement obligations.”

A number of initiatives have been implemented to achieve this outcome, including:

  • six-month pay parity reviews to ensure similar level roles are paid equitably, and any variance in pay can be explained by expertise, demand on talent or merit;
  • one-off increases for women paid below market for their role, considering performance and experience, in 2018 and 2021;
  • considering gender during the annual review process, to ensure increases and incentives results reflect relative performance, and;
  • detailed analysis of gender pay equality, comparing like-for-like roles and assessing remuneration on a site basis, by role and considering reasons for differences.

As a result of these initiatives, Stanwell’s gender pay gap now officially stands at 10.5 per cent. That’s considerably lower than the national average of 14.2 per cent, but there is still work to be done to close the gap for good.

Removing the barriers

Closing the gender pay gap is about more than equal pay – it’s also about removing the barriers that prevent women from participating fully and equally in the workforce.

To that end, Stanwell has implemented a flexible and inclusive parental leave policy that includes 14 weeks of paid leave (or 28 weeks at half pay). Group Accountant Angela Lewis, who recently returned from parental leave, says she appreciates that Stanwell supports employees at different stages of their lives.

“It means a lot to me,” Angela says. “I’m proud to work at Stanwell, and proud to work for a company that supports its employees through the process of becoming parents.”

In 2020, Stanwell extended its paid parental leave policy to any employee who is a primary carer of a child, irrespective of gender. It’s an approach that acknowledges that it’s not always the birth mother who is the primary carer, and is more inclusive to fathers and parents who may identify as LGBTQI+.

Joe Hemingway, Senior Market Analyst, was one of the first dads to take advantage of the policy, which enabled his wife to go back to work full-time while he took 14 weeks off.

“I really enjoyed the additional time I was able to spend with my kids,” Joe says, “especially trips to the park, playing games, and taking my daughter to swimming lessons. One thing I learned was that the everyday domestic duties of raising children takes more time out of your day than I thought!”

In addition to paid parental leave, Stanwell’s Super Care Initiative ensures that parents’ super continues to be topped up at the same rate while they’re on extended unpaid maternity leave. It’s a policy aimed directly at closing the retirement income gap between men and women.

Women retire with 24 per cent less super, on average, than their male counterparts. Because the superannuation system is linked to paid work, it overwhelmingly disadvantages women, who are paid less than men on average to start with, and are more likely to move in and out of paid work to care for children and other family members.

With the latest Census data finding that women over 55 are the fastest-growing group of homeless people in Australia, it’s clear that action needs to be taken now to prevent another generation of women facing similar prospects.

“Women tend to retire with significantly less super,” Angela Lewis says, “so the Super Care initiative is very important. It means I won’t be part of that statistic. I’ve accessed it twice now when I had my children, and it was very comforting to know that my super continued to grow while I took time off to care for my boys.”

Stanwell also offers 10 Keeping In Touch days that parents can use throughout their time off without losing their parental leave pay. Keeping In Touch days allow employees on parental leave to stay up to date with their workplace by participating in planning days, and to refresh their skills by taking part in training, assisting their eventual return to work.

Stanwell’s Senior Marketing and Communication Advisor, Bec Manley, took advantage of the Keeping In Touch days last time she was on maternity leave, and intends to again later this year when she goes on parental leave for the second time.

“I’m thrilled the Keeping In Touch days are available to us at Stanwell,” Bec Manley says. “When you go on parental leave, you can’t help but worry about what you may miss on your time off. The Keeping In Touch days provide you with the opportunity to keep one foot in the door, without losing your parental leave entitlements. Of course, most parents will get to a point where they’re too busy and besotted with their little one to worry about keeping in touch, but I appreciate that the option is there.”

Stanwell also ensures its employees on extended unpaid maternity leave continue to accrue long service leave.

“That’s particularly important to me,” Angela Lewis says, “because I’m approaching eight years at Stanwell, so I’m getting close to being able to take long service leave. It was great to know that was still accruing while I was on parental leave.”

When parents return to work, Stanwell supports them to work flexibly (by working from home, or working reduced hours), removing another barrier to women re-entering the workforce.

“Some of my previous employers didn’t offer much flexibility,” Bec Manley says, “which meant that many mums just never returned to work or put off having children. Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about that – last time I returned to work gradually – initially for just two days a week, then three, then four and now I work full time again. I know that whatever my circumstances eventuate to be after baby number two, I’ll have the option of working flexibly or reducing my work hours if I need to.”

Lighting the way

Stanwell is also building a pipeline to ensure the best and brightest female talents find their way to the company, now and into the future.

WORK180, an organisation dedicated to raising workplace standards for women, has recognised Stanwell as an Endorsed Employer for Women, certifying that the company has the policies and benefits in place to support women’s careers.

Stanwell’s paid apprenticeship and traineeship programs provide opportunities for young women to develop their skills and earn nationally recognised qualifications, as they take their first steps in the energy industry while learning from highly experienced mentors, apprenticeships and trainees.

Stanwell also offers a graduate program, which helps women to develop their capabilities, expand their networks and kick start their careers after university.

Stanwell seeks Expressions of Interest (EOI) from women studying engineering, specifically. Since initially engaging with this EOI form, two female engineering students have been successful in obtaining employment at Stanwell, in our university student placement program and Mechanical Engineering Graduate program.

Natalie Piper, who recently completed her Laboratory Techniques Traineeship at Tarong Power Station, says her time at Stanwell prepared her well for a career in chemical engineering.

“I think it’s important that there’s more female representation in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics),” she says.

“It is a male-dominated industry – and like any male-dominated industry, it doesn’t have to be that way. There’s no reason why more women shouldn’t be getting into the field if they want to.”