Case-studies - Women's Empowerment Principles


ANZ recognises the rewards of empowering women and it is taking action to enable both men and women to reach their full potential at work. Women make up around 60 percent of ANZ’s workforce yet make up 40 percent of management roles. ANZ’s goal is to have equal numbers of male and female managers across all areas and targeted recruitment policies are in place to achieve this.
For every role at ANZ there must be a gender balanced shortlist and at least one woman on all interview panels.

ANZ also have an equal number of men and women in their talent and graduate programmes. Thanks to these measures more women are visible during the recruitment process and this has led to more women being interviewed, appointed and promoted. “ANZ is proud of the progress it has made so far,” says General Manager Human Resources, Felicity Evans.

“Increasing gender equality is one of our publicly- stated commitments and it is incorporated into all our executives’ performance objectives.” Family-friendly policies are in place to help both male and female employees balance their work and home life. ANZ is fully committed to flexible working, with a policy of ‘all roles flexible’ for ‘anyone for any reason’.

86 percent of staff take up some form of flexible working, with evidence showing that employees who embrace flexible working are much more engaged at work. To support new parents, ANZ offers up to 18 weeks of parental leave on full pay. A salary top-up (the difference between government parental leave payments and an employee’s usual salary) is paid to an employee when they first go on parental leave, alleviating the financial pressure during this important time.

ANZ is also taking steps to ensure women have a more equal financial future. It estimates that New Zealand women on average are likely to retire with $60,000 less than men and this difference is increasing. One reason for the gender gap is that many women take time out from work to raise families and stop contributing to superannuation during this time.

To help close the gap, ANZ pays KiwiSaver employer contributions for staff taking parental leave. This applies to both male and female staff. “We pay the employer contribution during the full period of approved parental leave up to 24 months,” says Felicity Evans. “We do this because we don’t want our staff to be penalised for taking time out to raise families.

It also helps us to attract and retain staff.” “This is a first for New Zealand and we hope it encourages other companies to support their employees to save for retirement.” Women in senior roles at ANZ are supported to raise their profile and share their expertise through its Notable Women programme. Recognising a lack of media commentary from women business leaders, ANZ identifies women who are experts in their field, assisting them to build skills and confidence to contribute to media, forums, panels and events.

Participants say the new visibility means they are better known in their industry, sought after as speakers, and appear more in the media. Notable Women are recognised in business for their views and insights and are key contributors to ANZ’s brand in the marketplace. “ANZ wants to inspire other businesses to take action on gender equality,” says Senior Human Resources Business Manager, Gina McJorrow.

“It’s important not to underestimate the influence you can have on others. When we have engaged our suppliers, we have asked them what steps they are taking toward women’s empowerment. This seems like a simple thing to do, but it has had a significant impact. It shows our suppliers that ANZ takes the issue seriously and we expect them to as well.” ANZ continues to assess its policies and practices to see what more can be done to achieve equality for men and women.

ANZ believes empowering women brings real benefits to its business. “We know it requires ongoing effort, Gina McJorrow says. “For us, it’s not about one-off actions, it’s about constantly reviewing and improving what we do.” “These initiatives are part of our broader effort to encourage diversity at ANZ; that we want a workforce that mirrors our customer base in terms of gender, age and ethnicity, cultural background, disability and sexual orientation.”



Sovereign, a leading New Zealand health and life insurer, has spearheaded a unique leadership exchange programme to promote women’s equality, both here in New Zealand and overseas. The programme is run in partnership with The Hunger Project, whose mission is to end inequality, hunger and poverty through women-centred strategies.

Top executives and other employees from Sovereign are connected with women leaders in villages in India to develop new leadership strategies and exchange valuable knowledge. The programme enables disadvantaged women in India to empower themselves through governance training and support. In turn, Sovereign has developed its rethinking leadership programme and is taking these 'lessons from the village' back to its organisation and using them to change mind-sets, break down barriers and identify new and innovative ways of doing business.

The initiative has gained international recognition, with then CEO, Symon Brewis-Weston receiving a United Nations CEO leadership award in 2015. Gender equality is a core part of Sovereign’s workplace diversity strategy, says Sharron Botica, Chief Officer, People and Community. She continues, “We have implemented initiatives to support women including enhanced parental leave, flexible working, mentoring, and governance opportunities on key committees. As a result, we have seen a reduction in the gender pay gap and an increase in female representation on the executive leadership team.”

“Importantly, all leaders have completed inclusive leadership training, where we discuss bias (conscious and unconscious) and the importance of creating an inclusive workplace culture”. Enhancing gender equality has also brought significant business benefits, including allowing employees to learn new skills, fresh perspectives, and an increased ability to innovate. “We want to create an inclusive work culture,” asserts Sharron Botica. “One way we do this is by offering positive social opportunities for staff. For example, we have a parents hub website and a social collaboration tool called 'Baby chatter' for parents to connect to and use. It’s also a great way for those on parental leave to keep in touch.”

Sovereign regularly updates its staff on what the company is doing to implement the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles. “We have also accepted invitations to speak at international events, sharing our experience and insight into women's empowerment,” Sharron Botica says. “Hopefully, this will inspire others and enable businesses to gain further momentum with progressing these issues in New Zealand.”