Global management consulting companies often pride themselves on their consistent approach to gender equality in various countries while achieving mixed results across the board. Rather than following this pattern, Protiviti has taken a unique approach to build an inclusive workplace culture in Australia by working to adapt to the unique needs of their people. In this way, they are working to support all people to feel valued with a focus on those groups that are not well supported or understood like our first nations people and transgender individuals.

Unconscious bias training has been pivotal in achieving their success. It has led to an acceptance that everyone has different biases. The team are now able to have robust discussions where someone can ask for help because they are concerned their approach is biased while others can call out examples which appear biased so the discussion can ensue. Ghislaine Entwisle, Protiviti MD shares that, “whilst initially it was very uncomfortable for everybody, it was very thought-provoking.” One of the great benefits is it allowed Protiviti to explore the day-to-day activities and uncover where unconscious bias most often occurs.

Chantelle Salas, HR Manager, shared that it has been the basis for great discussions in performance reviews. “In the past, the team might have been defensive. Today, the team have the tools to have a robust discussion. For instance, it is okay to say, ‘I am going to challenge this because I think your comment shows unconscious bias.’”

To take this further, they have done training to better understand the process of people changing genders. Everyone who participated was touched by the “rawness and authenticity” of those who presented it. It opened up their understanding of why publishing a person’s pronoun is so important. Ghislaine explains, “by denoting that she is a she/her it demonstrates acceptance that others can choose their pronouns without judgement.” This a powerful message for both the team and their clients.

Leading the way globally, Protiviti embarked on their Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). Through the process, they came to a better understanding of first nations culture and their needs. Today, management works to support them through employment and procurement. It started with understanding and awareness. A pivotal stage was when the team reflected on what they wanted to be passionate about. One initiative was to commission a piece of artwork which encompassed their vision. Today, this is proudly displayed in their office. As they have their staff and clients at the heart of this vision, everyone was given a gift with the art. Now, many other offices have adopted this approach to dealing with their own indigenous cultures.

Management at Protiviti works hard to support their team members to succeed as individuals. They are very proud of the fact that their entire team will be considered for a pay rise, whether on leave or not, so all receive “market-relevant salaries”. Similarly, if they come across a talented person to recruit, the fact that they may be pregnant does not go against their chances of success. “It is about the best person for the role and being in it for the long haul,” says Chantelle.

Stacey D’Cruze, Associate Director, commented on Protiviti’s culture “I was 22 weeks pregnant when I started at Protiviti. To be given the opportunity to advance my career and become a parent in the same year felt like a dream. The support and flexibility I have received from senior leaders and the team before, during and after maternity leave is a testament to Protiviti’s great culture and inclusivity.”

Accordingly, their parental leave policies are very inclusive and family friendly. They have changed the wording so there is no distinguishing between primary and secondary carers resulting in the same paid benefits available to all parents within the first 24 months of childbirth or placement. This has led to increased adoption by both the men and non-birth parents in the team and those that would have traditionally been described as secondary carers. For Chantelle whose partner is pregnant “the introduction of their gender-neutral parental leave policy, allows the same paid leave benefit for both birth parents and their partner. Along with the flexibility and choice to take the leave in a manner that suits employees and their families. I am lucky enough to work for a company that recognises and supports that both parents play an active role when it comes to parenting and I look forward to being able to take time off with my partner as we both navigate being a parent”.

Another great initiative is the bonus 20 days return to work premium each employee receives to use within the first 6 months of returning from parental leave. This suits some employees to initially work 3 days and get paid for 5 days using the return-to-work premium. 

As you can imagine with these parental leave initiatives, their open recruitment and inclusivity policies, Protiviti had become a great place for women to work. Like many other finalists in the Gender Equity Awards, their approach to solving female issues has created a workplace culture that embraces the diverse and is openly inclusive for all.