The Power of a Social Contract – Accuteque

The Power of a Social Contract – Accuteque

Many companies talk about teams being aligned & operating with a common purpose, however Accuteque is unique with its approach to this common paradigm. They have a philosophy that encourages each team member to act independently to advance the company because they feel connected to the purpose. That’s exactly what Olivia Fenton did when she saw the chance to enter Accuteque in the Recalibrate – Gender Equity Awards. She rallied the team who collectively contributed to the effort. Their plan was well underway when CEO, Caroline Patton, became aware. 

Caroline Patton is a progressive woman who, like many people, comes with her own set of family responsibilities. When she became aware of Olivia’s initiative, she immediately saw the benefits. You see, part of her mission has always been to give women a voice and an opportunity to showcase their talent in the male dominated IT sector. 

Says Caroline; “People First is truly part of our DNA. It is reflected in our recruitment, engagement, leadership and even at board level. Today, the majority of our leadership and board positions are held by women which is unheard of in similar companies.” 

Accuteque accepts people for who they are and where they are in life. This may be at the start of their careers, towards the end where they can deliver their expertise to others or by taking risks on those wanting to re-join the workforce by giving women an opportunity after a parenting stint. As a result, they are attracting very experienced individuals and are proud they have one of Australia’s foremost female enterprise architects as a key member of their team. 


Moving beyond policies and procedures, part of what makes Accuteque unique is their social contract. This is an agreement developed by the team and builds on their values to outline what behaviour should happen in certain situations. One example was a statement “Share the load. We are always ready to help. Don’t wait to be asked.” To ensure there is clarity on this, it is explained further; “We are always ready to help. Just ask.​ There is power in being part of a team​. Working together is more enjoyable and you get a better outcome.” Then it goes further; “It doesn’t mean offloading the hard or boring jobs to someone else​. Just don’t do it all yourself.” The company operates with a number of these statements which they keep current with regular review so the whole team feels involved.  

When Accuteque responded to the Recalibrate Gender Equity Awards, the Social contract allowed Olivia to work “with positive intent”. 

As this is so effective for their company, Accuteque will work with other companies and teams to develop their own “social contract” for what is meaningful and important to them. For example, they did this with NAB for the Data Platform team. To deliver the transformation, they needed to be able to work autonomously and have courageous conversations. The social contract implementation backed by the General Manager enabled them to land the project. 

Another shift has been into true hybrid ways of working. Caroline says, “We don’t really care where you work from or what you are doing minute to minute between 8 am and 8 pm. Do what you need to do as long as you achieve your KPI’s.” And like their values, everyone is very clear on the company BHAG’s and the associated KPI’s. In fact, one team member travelled to Vietnam and used his location as a base for work whilst also taking some family time. What made it more remarkable was that he had exhausted his leave and so was not expecting to be able to go. After a discussion with his people leader, he realised that he could work around the planned family event and still get his work done.  

Another key factor has been flattening the management structure. Around four years ago they got rid of hierarchies and today they describe them as “people leaders” or “coaches” making it clear that the behaviour is to encourage and nurture their staff. 

To sum up, Accuteque has a unique way of working that really puts their people first. When asked why this is important, Caroline explains that it’s her role to “leave the ladder out for others and to help them with the climb.” With her championing these initiatives and her team embracing them you can understand why they were finalists in the Recalibrate – Gender Equity Awards. 

New Award Aim to Improve Gender Balance in Business Leadership Roles

New Award Aim to Improve Gender Balance in Business Leadership Roles

Business in Heels, an organisation that aims to empower women in business, has launched an award geared towards achieving gender equality among businesses.

The Recalibrate Gender Equality Awards aims to encourage competition between businesses especially in the ‘War for Talent’. Through the award, the organisers hope to create a groundswell of activity driven by best practice and inspired by the stories of individuals.

“Every little bit counts and maybe this will be the tipping point in driving change. I would like to see some major change in my lifetime,” Business in Heels CEO Lisa Sweeney said.

Are Small Business leading the Way with Gender Equality?

Are Small Business leading the Way with Gender Equality?

Some of the key trends making a difference are the number of female founders, the war for talent and the acceptance of flexible working.

The number of female founders has been steadily increasing for the last decade.  Today 34% or 668,670 women are business owners which is a 46% increase in the number of women business operators over the past two decades. The exciting impact of this on the gender economy is that women are supporting other women. According to Alanna Bastin-Bryne, co-founder of Femeconomy, “A business with a female founder and female executive employs 6x more women. They are part of the solution to improve women’s economic security and workforce participation.”

The war for talent is real with a shortage of skilled staff everywhere. This has made it more important than ever before for employers to stand out. Small business owners are nimble and quick to respond to opportunities and often very flexible in relation to hours worked, remote working, and health care issues all of which create an ideal environment for more women employees.

An example of how small businesses can be different is demonstrated by Sabio. They are an award-winning PR firm that offers benefits like a 9-day fortnight, remote and flexible working with the added bonus of a day off to celebrate your Birthday. Plus, they really get the health issues, providing their team with the obvious parental leave benefits and then they go a step further to include miscarriage leave and support. So, it’s no surprise that they have attracted a high number of female employees.

The value-driven businesses focused on “making a difference” are another way to attract a team who are passionate and willing to go above and beyond. Thank-You and Who Gives a Crap are both great businesses that people would be proud to work for. Both brands work to provide water, sanitation and health for those in poverty which is one of the key criteria for helping countries towards Gender Equity. And we know gender equity is good for business. When you have a team that loves coming to work, they are motivated and do a great job!

Some of the facts…

Small business is the engine of Australia’s economy with more than two million trading businesses, around 96% are small enterprises with up to 19 employees. That’s about 5 million people of which 85% are men and 65% women. The 20% gap is making a big difference to the economic security of women and gender equity over their lifetime.

Obviously, women taking on the caring role of the family & elderly parents is a key factor in driving these numbers.

There are two factors that will make a difference. One is the access to employers who can work flexibly with the woman’s limitations and the other is access to affordable childcare.

The last two years of COVID have moved the dial on the acceptance of flexible and remote working. This has enabled a number of women who previously had not been able to work to enter the workforce.

And in answer to affordable childcare recently the Victorian Government has committed $9 billion to expand kindergarten programs across the state. This means that: From 2023, free kindergarten programs will be available for all Victorian three‑ and four‑year‑old children at participating services – a saving of up to $2,500 per child, every year and creating 15 hours of free time for the primary carers. It is estimated that this will impact as many as 25,000 women

So, what are some of the stories we haven’t heard?

It’s your chance to stand out as an employer of choice and be recognised through the gender Equity Awards.

FOCUS on Excellence

SHARE & CELEBRATE best practice

ACKNOWLEDGE great behaviour

ENCOURAGE improvement

EXPEDITE 50/50 before 2130

These Gender Equity Awards will work to inspire a groundswell of activity by acknowledging great ORGANISATIONS and INDIVIDUAL advocates. The sharing of their stories and best practices will give others a roadmap and the incentive to succeed.

Ms Sweeney, CEO of Business in Heels, said she hoped the awards would bring many positive stories to light and create a groundswell of good news stories about gender equity. “Every little bit counts and maybe this will be the tipping point in driving change. I would like to see some major change in my lifetime.”

Entries close on August 31 and finalists will be announced on October 1. The awards will be held on November 16th at Crown Casino in Melbourne.  To enter it is simple and takes less than 10 minutes.