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Part of

The Victorian Government’s Work
and Family Balance online resource.

Case Study: IBM Australia Ltd

A long-standing commitment to work /life balance
in the IT sector
IBM Australia has built a strong organisational culture that is based
around the simple premise that one size does not fit all. Equally,
the company believes that to cultivate a high performance culture,
what matters most is outcomes, not face time.
One of the world’s largest information technology and business
services companies, IBM has been in Australia since 1932 and is
widely regarded as an industry and market leader in this country.
IBM operates seven sites in Victoria including three in Ballarat.
“As a global leader IBM realises that one size doesn’t fit all. We
recognise that it’s our people who set us apart and are critical to
our success. Our work /life strategy is about providing flexible work
options that enable our employees to meet their commitments to
work, family, education and other personal needs,” says Andrew
MacDougall, General Manager for General Business in Australia
and New Zealand, and Executive Sponsor Work /Life.
“That’s why we are serious about creating a workplace culture
that’s fluid and flexible and about where and when work gets done.”
This commitment forms the foundation of IBM’s approach to
develop a workplace culture and environment where employees
can balance all aspects of their lives.
IBM has had a long-standing focus on flexibility and inclusion,
with the first local diversity strategy developed in 1996 following
the establishment of the Diversity Council, which was chaired by
the then CEO. The Council invited employees to set up Employee
Diversity Networking Groups, with the Work Life Balance
networking group one of the first established in 1997.

Working Families Council

Today, the IBM Diversity Council, which has IBM’s CEO Glen
Boreham as its Executive Sponsor, drives the company’s Diversity
Strategy. Senior executives are members of the Council and there
are Executive Sponsors for IBM’s six diversity constituencies
which take in Work Life Integration, Advancement of Women,
People with Disability, Cultural Diversity, Gay Lesbian Bisexual
Transgender and Cross-Generational.
Among the flexible workplace options available to staff today are:
> Paid parental /adoption leave of 12 weeks at full pay
or 24 weeks at half pay, with the option of an additional
40 weeks of unpaid leave
> Partner leave of up to five days to support the primary
care giver
> Self-funded leave of up to four weeks unpaid leave during
a calendar year
> Leave of absence of up to 12 months without pay
> Personal work / life leave, which allows for time away from
the workplace for personal needs, emergency situations
and other requirements
> Carer’s leave for staff who need provide care or support
to an immediate family member
> Other leave arrangements including cultural holidays and
religious observance leave
> Long service leave can be taken at double time at half pay
> Flexible work arrangements including part-time, job share,
individualised work schedule or compressed work week,
mobile /telecommuting and work from home

Staff acceptance of IBM’s fair and flexible workplace options
is strong. A recent survey of the company’s 10,000 employees
found that 89% were aware of the flexible work life options
available and 51% use or have used them. After maternity leave,
96% of women return to work and 78% of staff work in a team
where it is considered acceptable to work from home at least
one day a week. Overall, 16% of employees work from home.
Over the past 10 years. IBM’s diversity programs have received
wide recognition, including the 2001 Prime Minister’s Employer of
the Year Award for people with a disability and the 2010 EOWA
Employer of Choice for Women for the 10th consecutive year.

Next on the agenda for IBM in Victoria is to tackle the ongoing
issue of access to childcare, particularly for employees in
metropolitan Melbourne. A priority access program is underway
to address this issue.
Contact for further information:
Morgan McAllister, Workplace Diversity Program Manager
IBM Australia /New Zealand
Tel: 8646 5882

Senior Software Engineer, Michael Powell, has opted to work parttime to spend more time with his family. “I have worked with and
for a number of businesses throughout my career – both large
and small. I can honestly say that in my opinion, the IBM work
environment, work-force diversity policies and the career-life
balance initiatives practiced by the organisation are leading the
way – not just in our industry but across the whole spectrum.”
“The biggest thing I have been conscious of throughout the past
six and a half years is that for my part-time arrangement to remain
viable, as a software developer I need to be able to consistently
demonstrate value to my team. Fortunately, IBM has been very
supportive in providing the training required to keep my skill set
current and relevant – allowing me to remain a useful team player.”

IBM worked with Rachael and steered her into a flexible option,
which was part of her career plan. It was a senior marketing role,
managing 70 people, and one she shared with Renata who had
recently returned form working in Singapore and wanted to job
share as well. It’s been a huge success for both women and has
allowed them to balance their work and personal lives.
Overall IBM’s approach has been very successful. Workplace data
from 2005 to 2008 showed that morale was up 1.3 points per
year, while attrition was down 2-3 points per year. A recent Work
Life and Issues survey undertaken by staff found that 80% had
found that flexibility in the office has had a positive effect on
productivity and 75% believed their manager supported their
efforts to manage work and personal /family life.

Working Families Council

The Victorian Government’s Fair and Flexible Employer
Recognition Awards are designed to recognise employers
who have developed innovative programs in policy and
practice that improve the work and family balance of
their employees.
Fair and flexible working arrangements benefit staff,
employers and businesses as they:
> Help staff manage their work and family balance.
> Help businesses attract and retain the best people.
The Working Families Council (WFC) promotes the award
and encourages businesses to set up fair and flexible
working practices.
for more information.

Published June 2010

Job sharing has worked on a professional and personal level for
Renata Bertram and Rachael Powell. Having worked for IBM for
10 years, Rachael was contemplating her return to work from
maternity leave after her third child. She had taken 17 months
leave after her second child, which was great for her family but
a challenge for her career.