Multidisciplinary design practice Fender Katsalidis Architects (FKA) is taking another step towards gender equality in the workplace by introducing a new parental leave policy that treats men and women equally.
The industry-leading move will see eight weeks of full wage paid parental leave given to both men and women, without distinguishing between primary and secondary caregivers. All team members, including those working part-time and on a casual basis, will be eligible, in addition to any government entitlements. A superannuation top up to the full annual level in the first year is also part of the policy for full-time and part-time staff.
“We are proud to make this announcement and show our genuine commitment to giving equal opportunities to both men and women,” says Fender Katsalidis director Nicky Drobis. “It is rare to find a parental leave policy where men and women are treated the same, as there are often clear distinctions made.
“Through our new policy, we are addressing the gender imbalance as well as the gender pay gap in terms of both regular salary and superannuation.”
With over 38 percent of the practice’s staff being parents, the policy forms part of a bigger plan for Fender Katsalidis. “It is one piece among our long-term plans to address inequality that will enable women and working mums to succeed and become a bigger part of our practice at a senior level. “From our perspective, it is an investment in our staff and not at all an expense to the business. We are hoping it can spark meaningful change within our practice, the design industry and workplaces more broadly,” Drobis adds.
Drobis says the benefits of what they are offering extend beyond the workplace, particularly as the leave can be taken any time within the first year. “Aside from workplace and career advantages, our concept is also a response to the societal shift of a more shared parental load.
“The current government policy can be considered archaic and the private sector must lead the charge in introducing a superior and more contemporary approach to supportive parental leave,” she says.
A mother herself, Drobis has three children aged 11, nine and seven.
“There is a huge need for parents to be supported during what is both a joyous and demanding stage of life. We look forward to seeing our staff and their partners reap the personal, professional and financial benefits of our new policy.”
The policy came into effect on 1 January 2020 with a two-year qualifying period.
Image: Nicky Drobis and family © Kristoffer Paulsen