Equal Employment Opportunity Annual Report – 1998 Initiatives Undertaken & Review of Policies and Practices

Review of EEO Progress Reports

The Bank has been through a year of significant change and restructuring. As a result there have been limited recruitment, training and development opportunities and a general climate of uncertainty which has affected EEO focus.

All departments submitted progress reports under the new EEO plan this year. A number of departments reported changes to long-standing practices to bring them into line with the EEO program and improve opportunities. Similarly, difficulties encountered in the implementation of the Plan were highlighted and remedial action taken. The most significant initiatives taken over the last year include the circulation of Staff Handbook pages on Conduct of Employees; inclusion of the Discrimination & Harassment Policy Statement during the performance planning session in October; arrangements for staff to view relevant videos on harassment and discrimination at least annually; position descriptions reviewed to include responsibility for EEO and OHS; women encouraged to nominate for development courses; and a commitment to look for opportunities to place people with disabilities.

Difficulties encountered during implementation of the Plan included: limited recruitment opportunities; the impact of restructuring on training and development activities; and a general climate of uncertainty which has affected EEO focus.

Staff Selection

The Bank continues to support the employment of people from the EEO groups at each entry point and via promotion/transfer opportunities; there is on-going monitoring and adjustment of selection policies and practices.

Over the year, the Bank developed a Careers and Employment page on the Bank's Internet site to more widely disseminate information on employment opportunities, including graduate positions and traineeships. Particular care was taken in the design of the material, including graduate and traineeship profiles, to ensure it reflected the diversity of Bank staff and encouraged applications from all EEO groups. Any updates to the site also mirror this theme. During 1998/99 the Bank plans to monitor and analyse statistical data on visits to the site to better understand its audience and to ensure equal opportunity for graduate applicants.

The Bank's on-going support of the Modern Apprenticeship and Traineeship System (MAATS) was further enhanced over the review period. In addition to better targeting of advertisements, the Bank held discussions with a specialist employment agency working closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth. Changes made to the structure of MAATS provided wider access through the introduction of dual training streams and greater scope to progress within and between training levels at the trainees' own pace.

The gender balance of graduate recruitment applications returned to previous levels, marginally short of the gender ratio of those studying relevant disciplines in university.

The Bank continued to monitor the gender balance of graduate recruitment applications. After a greater imbalance favouring males in 1996/97, this year's applications returned to previous female:male ratio levels, ie, 30:70, broadly similar to the gender ratio of those studying relevant disciplines in university. The Bank continued its endeavours to improve the gender balance of its graduate intake through promotional material and liaison with appropriate bodies ie, universities, graduate career councils and high school teacher groups.

Through a period of considerable restructuring and organisational redesign, new position descriptions were monitored to ensure knowledge and skill specifications reflected the inherent requirements of the job and included, where appropriate, an EEO accountability statement. In addition, the Bank made greater use of internal secondments to meet short-term work demands while enhancing the development opportunities of staff.

As in previous years, the Bank conducted a comprehensive work experience program designed to attract participants from all EEO groups.

Career Development & Staff Training

The EEO progress reports compiled by each functional area focus on developing staff through formalised training courses, assistance with external study, job rotation, acting in higher graded positions and external secondments. Supervisors are encouraged to assess their employees' training and development needs through the performance appraisal process and to agree on appropriate action.

The directory of Bank-provided training courses was updated and distributed during the year to all managers and made available to all staff via Infoline (PC Network). The courses cover a wide range of knowledge and skill areas including induction, performance management, supervision, leadership, business writing and a full range of PC software application training. A training needs survey was again circulated to all areas to help them plan future training.

A Management Development Program was run again during the year. This Program was also made available to women on parental leave on a “daily attendance” basis. All Bank courses are available on a non-residential basis, if required, to accommodate staff with dependant care or other after-hours responsibilities.

Further development opportunities occurred through local and overseas secondments. Two employees were seconded to other employers within Australia and a further sixteen, including two women, were seconded overseas during the year. These overseas secondments include technical assistance projects. Eight women attended overseas conferences.

Supervisors are encouraged to assess their employees' training and development needs through the performance appraisal process.

Since the 1995 pilot of the Self-Paced Learning Centres (SPLCs), attendances have steadily increased each year to 1,100 hours this reporting period (nearly double last year's figure). The centres, in Head Office and branch locations, are equipped with a range of materials which are also available on a take-home basis.

The flexibility of self-paced learning has provided staff with a range of options for development which can be organised around work and home commitments. They have proved to be of particular assistance to people returning to work after leave, especially women returning after parental leave.

The Head Office centre also includes a library on courses of study, overseas development courses and other external development opportunities, including the Springboard Program, a professional development course for non-managerial women. Since 1993, fifty-five women have attended the course.

The English as a Second Language (ESL) course, piloted last year, has now been adopted as a regular program. Staff from non-English speaking backgrounds were once again assisted with the preparation of business letters and resumes.

The Bank has always assisted staff to undertake study in courses relevant to the Bank's work. The study assistance scheme was reviewed over this reporting period to streamline the administration and tighten up the selection process. The scheme and the effects of the changes will continue to be monitored over the period ahead.

Staff Appraisal

Performance pay outcomes were monitored in relation to functional areas, classification levels and EEO groups. Overall, the results indicated that the performance pay round was conducted fairly.

Conditions of Employment

Job Sharing

As part of the 1997 Productivity Bargaining Agreement(PBA) guidelines were developed and introduced for job-sharing and a two year trial of job-sharing was implemented in 1996/97. A central register was established for interested parties. To date, there have only been two people (at different times) express interest in job-sharing. Consequently, there has not been a job-share position established within Head Office since the trial began.

Part-Day Leave

In the PBA the Bank agreed to explore the possible introduction of a part-day leave option for various types of leave. A survey of departmental views was carried out and further consideration of options is underway.

Grievance Contact Officers

Refresher training for Grievance Contact Officers was held to ensure that they understand their role and provide appropriate advice.

This is the second year since the appointment of Grievance Contact Officers in departments and branches. To ensure that the Grievance Contact Officers understand their role and provide appropriate advice, refresher training was held during the year and the network met on two occasions to discuss relevant issues. Training was also provided at the network sessions in areas such as conflict resolution.

If workplace resolution is unsuccessful, staff can take the grievance to the Bank's Grievance Authority which is an internal Bank body with an independent chairperson.

Only one matter was lodged with the Grievance Authority during the year. At NPA no grievances were lodged by staff.

Superannuation Fund Rules

The OSF rules were amended during this reporting period to provide a new class of contributing membership for new employees who are assessed, as a result of a current or past medical condition, as having a significant risk of invalidity prior to reaching normal retiring age. This new class of membership provides access to all employer-funded benefits except death in service and ill-health retirement benefits. Previously, such employees were excluded from contributory membership of the Fund.

Disability Action Plan

A committee comprising members from Departments which have direct contact with the public has been established to develop a Disability Action Plan.

Collection of Statistics

During the year further improvements were made to the personnel information system, including an upgrade in software, to improve the accuracy and efficiency of data collection.