Equal Employment Opportunity Annual Report – 1994 EEO Activities 1993–1994

Section 6(a): Informing Employees

During 1993/94 Bank staff were kept informed about a range of EEO-related issues and activities through the internal distribution of material, Bank publications, and Bank training courses.

  • An information package on general and local EEO issues continued to be provided to EEO contacts in branches on a regular basis. During the year, a survey was conducted to evaluate the usefulness and readership of the material and, as a result, the provision of the package has been extended to Head Office departments.
  • The Bank's staff information sheet – “Staff Matters” – which is produced on a regular basis and distributed to all employees, reported on branch staff and structures, productivity bargaining, performance appraisal, study assistance, flexible work arrangements, and the Bank's Occupational Health and Safety Agreement. The “Information Digest”, circulated weekly to management, also included a number of EEO-related topics.
  • Note Printing Australia (NPA) produces a weekly newsheet, “Staffline”, which is distributed to all employees to inform them of the organisation's performance, health, safety and personal security matters, and other topics. The latter include information on Human Resources issues such as appraisal and promotion, and the current position on measures used to determine whether or not a productivity payment will be made in terms of NPA's Enterprise Agreement at the end of the financial year.
  • The Bank's monthly staff magazine “Currency” covers a range of issues and activities related to EEO. During 1993/94 articles were published on topics such as the participation by staff in the “Springboard Women's Development Program”, the “Cross Cultural Communication Program” in Cash Services Department, additions to the Bank's Aboriginal painting and sculpture collections and background information on Bank staff from other countries. Correspondence on the progress of flexible work arrangements was also included.
  • In-house training courses – induction, effective supervision and management courses – continue to include sessions on EEO awareness and managing diversity.
  • A revised version of the Bank's discrimination and harassment policy statement, signed by the Governor, was prepared to incorporate changes in Commonwealth anti-discrimination legisation.
  • Copies of the Bank's EEO Annual Report for 1992/93 were distributed to all staff and to new employees at induction sessions.
  • School holiday care and activities information was updated for Sydney-based staff to assist with work and home responsibilities.
  • The Bank's Health Centre in Head Office provided a range of information to staff on health-related matters, including work and parenting issues, and distributed pamphlets on health issues in different languages.
  • A range of material, including changes to EEO legislation, was sent to managers, Senior Administrative Officers and other staff to inform them of developments and to respond to specific requests.
  • Personnel Policy Department maintains a collection of EEO resources for use by staff.

Section 6(b): Conferring Responsibility

Development of a new EEO Plan for the three year period to June 1996 was completed during the year and subsequently distributed to senior management. It provides goals and strategies to progress the EEO program and, for the first time, a set of detailed strategies suitable for implementation by departments and branches has been included in the plan. This is in line with the ongoing decentralisation of decision making on personnel matters and the responsibility that managers and supervisors have to ensure EEO principles are reflected in effective management practice. A summary of the Plan's objectives is set out in Appendix 1.

The EEO Policy Committee and Personnel Policy Department (previously Personnel Department) continue to be responsible for broad EEO policy issues. Following a restructure of the personnel, secretariat and services areas of the Bank, the EEO Unit has been incorporated into a new Development Section which combines EEO policy advice and support for all levels of management with more general responsibility for staff development policy in the Bank. Minor consequential changes have been made to the Terms of Reference of the EEO Policy Committee; these are listed in Appendix 2.

During the year the Committee's main focus was on the content, distribution, marketing and monitoring of the EEO Plan, and on revisions to the Bank's Policy Statement on Discrimination and Harassment and the EEO New Appointment Form.

Note Printing Australia (NPA), a division of the Bank which operates as a separate business enterprise with a Board of Directors chaired by one of the Bank's Deputy Governors, continues to set its own goals and strategies for achieving equal employment opportunity.

Section 6(c): Consultation with Trade Unions

Discussions on a number of EEO-related matters took place during the year with the Finance Sector Union, Reserve Bank Officers' Section, in the context of finalising details of the Productivity Bargaining Agreement signed in December 1992. These included developing detailed guidelines for the introduction of an expanded range of flexible work options, formalising a set of job design guidelines, and discussing measures to enhance training and development opportunities for staff. Following extensive consultation with the FSU, an agreement entitled the Reserve Bank of Australia General Conditions of Employment 1993 was certified by the Industrial Relations Commission in January 1994. This contains pay rates, hours of work and core conditions of employment for staff below senior management levels.

Further restructuring of the Bank's branches continued during the year, following a review of the banking, registry, cash and support activities in each branch. The “support” departments of Head Office were also reorganised. In each case the Bank consulted with the FSU and other unions on the implications of the restructuring for job classifications, filling of new positions and offers of voluntary redundancy to facilitate the exit of surplus staff.

In December 1993 the Bank signed a two year Productivity Agreement with the Australian Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union (LHMU) covering Head Office luncheon room staff. A core element of the Agreement is an increase in the number of part-time positions, to enhance the efficiency of catering operations.

A one year agreement covering guards and cleaners in all branches excluding Adelaide, Perth and NPA was also signed between the Bank and the LHMU in January 1994; Perth branch was subsequently included in the agreement in June. Both agreements include provision for increases in wage rates over the term of the agreement based on agreed productivity measures.

NPA is currently mid-way through the three year Enterprise Agreement signed with its trade unions in December 1992. The idea of establishing a working party of two management and two union representatives each year to recommend measures against which a decision is made as to whether or not a productivity payment is justified, has proved to be a successful one. At the same time, monthly meetings of the Joint Union/Management Consultative Committee have continued to take place against a backdrop of reduced output which required the resolution of some difficult issues during the second half of the year.

A representative of the FSU is a member of the EEO Policy Committee, and staff responsible for EEO matters in the Development Section of Personnel Policy Department liaise with the union on a regular basis.

Section 6(d): Consultation with Employees

The Bank continues to consult with staff on an individual and group basis.

  • Five meetings of the Women's Discussion/Network Group were held during 1993/94. The main focus was on the progress and subsequent introduction of flexible working arrangements, but sessions also included an update on training/development opportunities such as development programs for women and professional association membership. A speaker from the Office of the International Year of the Family (IYF) informed the group of the background and activities of the IYF.
  • Discussions were held during visits to some branches about the progress of the EEO Plan, grievance officers and procedures, resources and local issues. EEO contacts in branches were surveyed on the information sent to them and their present and future role.
  • Specific discussions occurred with the management of some Head Office departments on flexible work issues and with departmental personnel officers on the development of the EEO Plan and the distribution of EEO-related material.
  • Managers and supervisors requested information and advice on a range of issues to address EEO-related problems and provide preventative/educative measures in their areas. Individual staff members also sought advice on issues such as flexible work arrangements, training and development needs, balancing work and family responsibilities, concerns over unfair treatment, harassment, recognition of same sex partners, return to work following parental leave, and the status and availability of part-time work.
  • Contact was made with the Bank's clerical trainees to assist those from EEO groups with special needs and support.
  • In Adelaide branch some female staff were integrated into the management group to encourage the development of female staff and to widen the contribution to the management decision process. Women in Perth branch have been involved in key working groups, including the development of the strategic business plan for the branch.
  • At NPA, consultation with individual employees and groups took place on a range of matters during the course of the year. This included a staff ballot on possible extended closure at Easter, and a detailed survey, including fifty-seven individual interviews, about work preferences, skill acquisition, environmental issues, job rotation and working hour arrangements in the Finishing Section of the plant.

Section 6(e): Collection of Statistics

Since establishment of the EEO database in 1987 following a Bank-wide survey of staff, statistics on staff have been kept up-to-date through the voluntary completion of an EEO New Appointment form by new recruits. During the year, this form was updated to clarify its usage, improve the format for users and include additional questions. The new information will provide the opportunity to contact people from designated groups, obtain data on the range of disabilities and devise specific assistance for individuals. Overall, the high response rate from staff providing EEO statistics has been maintained; at end June 1994 statistics were available for 97% of Bank staff (excluding NPA).

A new Applicant EEO Information form was compiled for applicants to traineeship positions in the Bank to provide more accurate data about this group of staff, assist the identification of those from EEO groups, and to obtain additional information on disabilities.

The Bank's computerised personnel information system is under review and a new system is being evaluated. A major objective in introducing a new system is to improve the analysis of data. This will assist in measuring key indicators of performance in the application of EEO policies and in identifying areas where performance can be improved.

During the year the EEO Policy Committee examined the usefulness of current EEO statistical collection (especially data on representation within occupational groups); a review and comparison with standards used externally is to be undertaken.

During the year statistics were collected on profiles of women in middle and senior management, the age profile of staff, voluntary redundancy/early retirement data, parental leave and part-time work, distribution and languages of people from non-English speaking backgrounds in the Bank, and internal transfers.

NPA has continued to collect EEO data from all new employees and has also established a comprehensive database on the training undertaken by each staff member.

Graph Showing Age Distribution of Staff
Graph Showing Transfers of Staff

Section 6(f): Consideration of Policies and Examination of Practices

Policies and practices examined during 1993/94 included:

Flexible Work Arrangements

Over the past two years there has been extensive consultation and discussion with managers, various groups of staff and unions about widening the range of flexible work arrangements in the Bank. In January 1994, the introduction of permanent part-time and temporary part-time work arrangements was announced. Consistent with the efficient functioning of the Bank, these new arrangements allow for the formal establishment of permanent part-time positions and for staff occupying full-time positions to work part-time for a pre-determined period. Following extensive consultations with the FSU on the operational guidelines, both schemes came into effect on 18 May 1994. The arrangements supplement the part-time work option already in place for staff resuming duties following maternity leave.

Following the formalisation of these arrangements, various positions in Head Office and some branches were examined as possible permanent part-time positions and discussions have occurred on the prospects for temporary part-time work in some positions. So far the number of staff members moving to part-time work has been quite small: shortly after the new flexible work options were introduced, Voluntary Redundancy Offers (VRO) became available to surplus staff, including some on maternity leave or returned from maternity leave but not appointed to substantive positions. The timing of these offers meant that some women deferred applications for part-time work.

During the year, to provide additional flexibility for staff, the span of hours was extended, and both commencement and finishing times were redefined. For staff participating in the part-time work contiguous with maternity leave arrangements, the maximum daily and minimum weekly number of hours were reduced.

The Bank continues to provide part-time work to most women who request it upon return from parental leave.

Superannuation – part-time benefits

Changes to the rules of the Bank's Officers' Superannuation Fund were made during the year to accommodate the introduction of more flexible work arrangements. Some contributing members will now become entitled to Officers' Superannuation Fund benefits having had a mixture of full-time and part-time employment. For such people, their Bank-funded benefit will reflect pro rata their combined part-time/full-time employment history relative to full-time employment.

Performance Appraisal Scheme

The current performance appraisal scheme became fully operational in 1992. Since its introduction analysis has been undertaken to determine its effectiveness and identify areas for possible improvement. Among the aspects studied has been consistency of operation across different groups (e.g. classification levels, female vs male, and work functions). A new study – covering the 1992/93 appraisal period – was undertaken during the period of this report. Proposals to improve current arrangements are currently under consideration.

Aptitude Testing

Where appropriate, modified testing procedures are now used when assessing job applicants, including those members of EEO groups applying under the Australian Traineeship System. These include scheduling individual test sessions where appropriate for applicants with disabilities, arranging to test Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander applicants in one group and enlarging the test material for those who are vision impaired.

Staff Selection

An analysis of the representation by EEO groups on selection panels was commenced to ensure that future panels consist of a suitable representation of appropriately trained staff. In particular, increased female representation on panels has been addressed. Information for selection panel members was reviewed to ensure that the content was adequate and up to date.

NPA's appointments procedures were also reviewed with union representatives during the year, and new guidelines established which provide more equitable treatment for internal applicants.

Exit Interviews

The Bank continued to offer exit interviews to all staff who resigned. The information obtained on length of service, gender, age, employment level and location has been analysed.

Exit interviews were re-introduced in NPA during the year.


During 1993/94 the Bank's Grievance Authority met in response to four complaints lodged by staff. Two complaints related to decisions to terminate employment with the Bank and two related to treatment during restructuring.

Further discussions were held on the role, selection and training of grievance officers within the Bank. Some areas have decided to appoint two Grievance Officers – one female and one male. Information has been provided to assist with the training of newly appointed grievance officers.

There were no grievances lodged at NPA, which operates a separate Grievance Authority.

Occupational Health & Safety

In accordance with the Occupational Health & Safety (Commonwealth Employment) Act 1993, the Bank's Occupational Health and Safety Policy and Agreement was drawn up in conjunction with the unions and ratified in September 1993. A training program for Health and Safety Representatives for Designated Work Groups was implemented for completion in November 1994. OH&S continues to be featured in orientation sessions for new employees, and training courses include written material in a choice of languages where appropriate.

Training & Development

During 1993/94 the Bank spent the equivalent of about 5% of its salaries and wages bill on eligible training expenditure, the same as the previous year. Study assistance for courses approved by the Bank was provided to 165 staff members, 39% of whom were women.

Women attended a range of external conferences and courses and one undertook a four month secondment at a private bank. Another woman staff member, the Senior Training Development Officer, visited Papua New Guinea twice during the year to assist the development and leadership of a residential banking course for the Papua New Guinea Institute of Bankers.

Several Head Office and Branch staff attended external career/personal development courses for women. The Springboard program continued for Sydney-based staff during 1993/94 with seven female staff attendees, two participating as mentors and one as guest speaker. Several branches investigated this program for their staff. A similar course for men has been developed and is to be evaluated during the year ahead.

Graph Showing Study Assistance Departments & Branches

The Bank has continued to develop and offer internal non-residential courses to meet the needs of staff with family responsibilities, including those working part-time hours.

Departments and branches are encouraged to provide work experience for students and people from EEO groups. During the period one of the Bank's senior managers took part in the Executive Shadowing Program, which involved being a role model to a female high school student for a week.

There had been a trial membership of the Women and Management Association by six female staff over the past few years. Following an evaluation this year, membership has been renewed for 1994/95 for a new group of six women. Other professional women's associations were researched and information collated for distribution to staff. Enquiries were made about the progress of women's discussion and network groups in other organisations and the types of issues considered.

In March 1994 a two weektrial of self-paced learning was undertaken in Head Office, and plans are underway to set up a more permanent program of computerised learning to complement internal training courses. This type of learning is especially beneficial for people from the EEO groups and allows flexibility for people with family and other responsibilities. During the year the Sydney branch developed self-learning PC packages for their staff, which covered branch operations and other services to encourage increased knowledge and communication.

To ensure that all staff have access to induction information, a script for a video has been prepared which includes a segment on EEO.

Prevention of Harassment

The Bank purchased a training kit on sexual harassment developed by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission and made it available to some branches for information and comment. In 1994/95 there are plans to adapt the kit to better suit the Bank's needs.

Information and advice on the prevention of harassment was provided to areas of the Bank on request and a revised Policy Statement on Discrimination and Harassment has been prepared.

Work and Family

During 1993/94 forty six women returned to either full or part-time work after parental leave while twenty seven resigned directly from parental leave. Three men resumed from unpaid parental leave during the year. Return to Work workshops were held on two occasions, with fourteen women participants in all.

In 1994 – the International Year of the Family (IYF) – a representative from the Office of the IYF visited the Bank and spoke to staff about the background to the Year and terms of reference for the National Council for the IYF.

Through its membership of the EEO Co-ordinators' Group the Bank contributed to the preparation of a Work and Family Resource Kit for use by organisations and individuals.

The Bank agreed to staff participation in a voluntary and confidential survey conducted by external consultants aimed at employee parents who have children aged from 0–12 years. The data, collected over a six-month period, included the nature and duration of children's illnesses, childcare arrangements and associated loss of work productivity and resulting cost to the employer. Ninety-five staff responded – sixty-two women and thirty-three men.

Graph Showing Women: Parental Leave Departments and Branches

The definition of “immediate family” for purposes of special leave for family illness was clarified during the year in the conditions of service agreed between the Bank and the Union.

Job Redesign

Towards the end of 1993–94, a revised set of job design guidelines was developed to assist managers and supervisors. Departments and branches continue to assess work areas to see whether the redesign of jobs can assist in broadening skills and provide wider opportunities for staff.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People

Following the completion of the clerical traineeship under the Australian Traineeship System in 1992/93, an Aboriginal trainee was appointed to the permanent staff. Four Aboriginal people were included in the subsequent July 1993 intake of trainees. The traineeship recruitment process was reviewed in early 1994; reference to an age requirement for trainees was removed.

Educational institutions and specialised agencies for EEO groups were contacted to encourage suitable potential applicants for other advertised positions.

The Bank continued to be an active member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Network group (ATSIEN), and hosted the group's December 1993 meeting.

1993 was the International Year of the World's Indigenous People. Bank's initiatives undertaken in conjunction with the Year included the purchase of a video package “The Indigenous Australians” for viewing by staff; an Aboriginal art/craft day in Head Office; and acquisition of an Aboriginal design for possible use in the advertisements of positions for Aboriginal trainees and other correspondence. Additions to the Bank's Aboriginal artwork collection were made, with the Melbourne branch acquiring sculptures for the building's refurbished foyer.

People with Disabilities

The recruitment process for the employment of trainees with disabilities was reviewed to ensure applicants have the appropriate access and interview and testing conditions to accommodate individual disabilities. Discussions took place with specialised agencies to attract applicants who would be suitable for the requirements of the traineeship. During the year one trainee with a disability was appointed to a permanent position. Appropriate equipment is provided and maintained for staff with disabilities.

A representative from DEET spoke to Personnel Policy Department staff about the issues involved with recruiting people with disabilities. The Bank also participated in a DEET sponsored survey on the employment of people with disabilities.

Several meetings were held with a disability employment agency to identify permanent positions in the Bank suitable for people with intellectual disabilities. After thorough analysis, it was agreed that suitable permanent positions are not available at present. Requests received by the Bank for work experience for people with disabilities are accommodated where possible.

During the year the Bank's legislation was reviewed for consistency with the provisions and objectives of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.

Personnel Policy Department continues to liaise with staff with disabilities, providing information and seeking opinions on issues.

People from Non-English Speaking Backgrounds

Eight staff from non-English speaking backgrounds attended an internal “Written English Course” to assist the development of English writing skills. Staff were also advised about English improvement opportunities at external venues, in out-of-work hours, on a low or no cost basis.

Steps were taken during the year to provide staff with literature on various employment-related issues in languages other than English; themes of cultural diversity were included in training courses.

Section 6(g): Setting Objectives and Selecting Indicators

Preparation of the Bank's fourth EEO plan was completed during the year. The plan, which covers the period to June 1996, sets out a series of EEO-related aims and goals under the main areas of personnel responsibility: staff selection, career development, staff training, staff appraisal, health and safety and conditions of employment. Details are included in Appendix 1. The broad EEO objectives are supported by specific strategies and outcomes directed both to line management throughout the Bank and to Personnel Policy Department. The strategies for departments and branches are suggestive of the general approach to be followed, with adjustments as appropriate for particular circumstances. To assist in meeting EEO objectives, managers are being encouraged to set additional goals or initiate other strategies with appropriate indicators.

A range of indicators is currently used to monitor the progress of EEO groups in the Bank. Information is collected from external organisations for comparative purposes, such as retention rates of women following parental leave. Data maintained from internal sources includes a gender break-up by age distribution, transfers of staff, training participation and study assistance. The progress of all EEO groups is indicated by statistics collated for salary ranges, salaried classification levels, average incomes, occupational groups and staff movements – recruitment, exits, and promotions. Career progression is tracked for women at Level 4 and above and data is maintained about the resumption of women following parental leave. Additional information is now being gathered on trainee applicants by EEO groups and the types of disabilities identified by new recruits.

One of the objectives of the Bank's new personnel information system will be to increase the capacity to produce additional statistical data by gender and EEO groups, as well as more detailed information on attendances at courses and conferences, parental leave and part-time work.

Section 6(h): Monitoring and Evaluation

After almost a decade of EEO initiatives within the Bank, a maturity of approach to equal employment and equity issues is increasingly apparent throughout the organisation. Nevertheless, in evaluating the Bank's previous EEO plan a couple of areas for possible further improvement have been identified. In particular, although decisions on most personnel issues are increasingly being taken at a local level by line managers, EEO strategies and initiatives still tend to be driven from the centre by the Personnel Policy Department and the EEO Policy Committee. Evaluation also suggested a lack of understanding in some areas of the need for a variety of approaches when attempting to overcome disadvantage and accommodate differences between individuals and groups.

The Bank's new EEO Plan attempts to address these issues. Departments and branches are being encouraged to select appropriate strategies from those provided, devise actions to achieve desired outcomes and prioritise their strategies over the duration of the Plan. The progress of areas meeting these objectives will be monitored and evaluated on a regular basis.

Staff numbers and structures continue to adapt to the Bank's changing responsibilities. Such changes make the identification and evaluation of longer-term trends difficult. Despite this, the statistics set out in Appendices 3 and 4 provide some measures of change in the relative positions of staff represented in EEO groups.

  • Since the EEO statistical benchmarks were established in 1987, total staff numbers in the Bank have fallen by 1,165, or 40%. During this seven year period, 895 have left the Bank under voluntary redundancy or early retirement offers; of these, a third were women. During the twelve months to June 1994, the proportion of women leaving the Bank with VROs increased significantly: of the 97 staff members accepting redundancy offers, 55% were women.
  • Departures of staff have contributed to a change in gender mix, particularly at the lower salaried levels in the Bank: in the twelve months to June 1994, the proportion of women in salaried positions at Level 3 and below fell by almost 5% (to 42% of total salaried staff). In contrast, the proportion of women in middle management positions continues to increase, almost doubling in the three years to June 1994.
  • Small increases have occurred in the representation of people from non-English speaking backgrounds, people with disabilities and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
  • Within occupational groups, an increasing proportion of women are now employed in the clerical/administrative stream; female representation in the clerical support areas of the Bank, though high, continues to fall. In the service/technical stream, little change in the representation of women or other EEO groups has taken place during the twelve months under review.
  • By historical standards, recruitment in the Bank remains at relatively low levels. Of the 121 new recruits during the year (excluding NPA), 42% were women, 12% came from non-English speaking backgrounds, and 4% were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders. Apart from an increase in the latter group, this pattern is little changed from the previous year.
  • 126 staff were promoted during 1993/94, compared with 81 in the previous year; women received 40% of the promotions, little changed from the previous year.
  • Of the 245 resignations or retirements from the Bank during 1993/94, 134 (or 55%) were by women.
  • The number of women returning to work on a part-time basis after parental leave was lower during 1993/94 than in the previous two years, in part due to a higher take-up of voluntary redundancy offers (resignations) by women in this group; the number of women resuming full-time after parental leave increased slightly.
  • Statistics on the age distribution of staff show that women tend to be concentrated at the younger end of the spectrum; two-thirds of staff aged under 35 years are women.
  • At NPA, total staff numbers remained almost unchanged over 1993/94, as did the gender distribution of staff and the representation of EEO groups within each occupational category.

Overall the statistics suggest, in particular, some improvement in the relative status of women, especially in the mainstream salaried staff of the Bank, even though it is not possible to say with certainty how much the EEO program has directly contributed to this outcome. To improve on these gains EEO initiatives need to ensure that personnel policies and day-to-day staffing decisions have proper regard to principles of merit and equity.