CUA: Providing a life rich career

Each year the Workplace Gender Equality Agency  recognises employer commitment and best practice in promoting gender equality in Australian workplaces. One of the organisations recognised this year is CUA. Canstar caught up with CUA General Manager, Human Resources, Sonia La Penna, for some further discussion.

Australia’s largest customer-owned financial services provider, CUA, has been awarded the prestigious WGEA Employer of Choice for Gender Equality citation for the second consecutive year.

CUA was one of just 12 financial institutions and only four mutuals to be recognised by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency for 2015 and CUA Chief Executive Officer Rob Goudswaard said the award was fitting recognition of the work being done by CUA to promote gender equality and pay equity, but also broader equality and diversity initiatives.

“Receiving the citation is independent recognition of CUA’s commitment to gender equality within our organisation – not only for our existing employees but also future talent,” Mr Goudswaard said.

“CUA is proud to be an advocate for gender equality within the customer-owned banking sector and with our customers, and I look forward to us continuing to build on that foundation in 2016.”

With a workforce that is two-thirds women, CUA is keen to encourage greater female participation in senior management or specialist roles where women are typically under represented and has already introduced a 50/50 gender split target for all recruitment short lists.

Q: What are some of the ways in which CUA works to promote gender equality in the workplace?

A: Each year, CUA conducts a pay gap analysis to ensure there are no role-for-role inequities in the workforce. We have a 50-50 gender split target for all recruitment shortlists and similarly have a target of 50 per cent female participation in the new CUA Graduate Program, which will accept its first intake in 2016. We actively identify talented women within the business through talent and succession planning – in fact, more than half of all the participants in CUA’s leadership development program were women in 2015.

CUA provides a range of flexible working arrangements.  We also support both men and women with paid parental leave entitlements – including 13 weeks of paid parental leave (with superannuation) for primary carers and 3 weeks of parental leave for non-primary carers (2 weeks paid, 1 week unpaid). We also run networking and mentoring programs for our people, including some specifically tailored to women.

Q: Retaining loyal and committed staff is a goal for any business – do your equality initiatives pay dividends in this regard?

A: The WGEA citation and CUA’s approach to diversity, inclusion and equality are important in helping to both attract and retain employees.

Workplace flexibility, opportunities for career development, and equal pay for equal work are all things we know are important to our employees. CUA’s customer promise is to provide ‘life rich banking’. It is equally important that we also provide our own employees with a ‘life rich career’ – one that recognises and rewards good performance, supports life balance, and encourages people to perform at their best.

The result is that we have a motivated and highly engaged workforce – 79 per cent of our people were “highly engaged” in our 2015 annual employee engagement survey.

Q: Are there any other workplace changes you would like to see going forward?

A: CUA is proud of our achievements in workplace equality and diversity but there is of course scope for continued improvement. We have a goal that by 2019, 50 per cent of senior leadership roles at CUA will be held by women.

We are making good progress towards that target already. We are also aiming to lift female Board representation to 30 per cent in the same timeframe.

CUA’s Diversity Council, which is chaired by our CEO Rob Goudswaard, will continue to champion initiatives in 2016 that promote an inclusive, innovative and collaborative workplace. In particular, the focus during the coming year will be on:

  • Improved gender equality in the workplace
  • Inclusive work practices
  • Workplace flexibility, including consideration of family and caring responsibilities


You can find out more about the WGEA Employer of Choice for Gender Equality here.

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