In 2018, Patersons Securities became the first in their industry to introduce paid parental leave. We sat down with Jane Tandy, COO at the financial services firm, to find out how they did it and what’s next.
Jane Tandy doesn’t mess around. A COO and a mother, she’s direct in style and is clearly used to optimising her time and impact. Yet it’s clear from the start of our conversation that she doesn’t fit the ‘abrupt and arrogant’ old-school stockbroker stereotype. Instead, we find a leader who understands the importance of people and relationships, and their impact on commercial results.
Though she’s unlikely to shout about it, we suspect that Jane’s ability to understand and connect has been pivotal in accelerating her employer’s progress towards greater diversity and inclusion. She’s been with Patersons for over 16 years, working her way up from Dealer’s Assistant to COO. While progressing her own career, she’s also been a driving force behind the successful introduction of paid parental leave, ‘partner pay’ and a host of other initiatives, including paid domestic violence leave, breastfeeding rooms and an Employee Assistance Program which encourages and supports parents in returning to work.
“When I started out in stockbroking 16 years ago, there were few women over the age of 30 who had kids. Things are changing but this is still one of the biggest boys club industries around. We should be holding ourselves up against law, medicine and accounting, who have been so much more progressive in pushing for diversity.”
Jane is under no illusion about the motivations for industries to seek greater diversity:
“Let’s be clear – Big companies do it because it’s in their commercial interest. Our future success depends on our ability to attract and harness diverse perspectives. We’re in a fast-paced industry, undergoing constant regulatory change and digital disruption; we have to be adaptive and forward thinking.”
Patersons: A journey to diversity
Jane was acutely aware of the need for change in her own organisation. Like so many others preparing to start a family, she was concerned it would hold her back career-wise – that if she went for a job, she’d be disadvantaged. As for paid parental leave, she was also aware of some misplaced fears internally that ‘you’re paying women to take leave’.
“We had to change that – to support people so that they can start families and then come back. So we put a business case forward for paid parental leave.”
It was rejected. Twice.
“They just weren’t ready. I went to our CEO – my boss - and said I’m embarrassed that we don’t have this in place. He promised me he’d ask the question all the time, wherever he went, to better understand.”
Jane later had a baby of her own, and when she returned from maternity leave, she submitted the business case again. This time, they approved it and approached ‘partner pay’ at the same time. For Jane, the CEO’s commitment to truly understanding the issues was pivotal.
“I love that there was no lip-service. He took the time to consult and understand – to make an informed choice. Whenever we met with other professional services firms, he asked them and gauged their feedback. One key thing for him was hearing from Dads how much they appreciated the support their employers had provided. It was a valuable lesson for me - I’m a 35 year old woman so of course my viewpoint on paid parental leave is going to be different to that of a 60 year old man. We need to understand where our decision-makers are at and what we’re pitching.”
A proud partnership and an ongoing journey
Jane is quick to point out that this was a team effort. She singles out her Head of HR, Larissa Johnson, “who was instrumental” to their achievements. We‘re also proud to hear Jane talk about WORK180’s role in the Patersons evolution:
“WORK180 played a massive part. I was talking to them throughout and they wouldn’t approve us as a WORK180 advertiser without paid parental leave. They really helped us as we pushed for change.”
Jane is open about the fact that Patersons are still early on in their journey:
“We’ve only got minimum entitlements at this stage but it will improve. We’re trying really hard. We have two Dads who are about to be the first to access our paid partner leave, and have had quite a few women accessing our EAP program upon returning to work. Importantly, it has changed the mindset and the tone within the organisation.”
Jane is also achieving a good balance for herself. When she travels, her husband (who’s a stay-at-home Dad) and her son come with her, supported by work. As she says, “it costs us more but without it, I can’t still breast feed and do a four-day interstate trip.”
Patersons – A home for women
When we ask Jane about attracting more women to Patersons, her pitch is authentic and convincing:
“We want this to be a home for women. We want to attract more returners to work and women from outside the industry. The timing’s great for parents – most of us can start work early and finish by 1:30pm. And we’re a great option for smart women who want a change of career. A lot of them go into real estate. Why not us instead?”
She also has a strong message for her industry: ditch the lip service and get it done.
“I’m on the Stockbrokers Association Board and one of only two women. That’s incredibly disappointing. For too many players, diversity is more about not wanting to be seen to be unsupportive. Now we’re doing it, others are being shamed into it.”
Jane offers two pieces of advice for those driving change in this space. Firstly, engage the men, who should be at the forefront of championing this.
“Men of my generation need to look at their partner and make a call, then make a case - It’s better when it comes from people who don’t seem to have a vested interest. Most importantly, men need to take on parental responsibilities for their kids. It’s important that men share the sick leave for looking after kids kept home from day-care… and that they tell people that’s what they’re doing.”
Her second piece of advice is directed specifically to women:
“I heard a story about a woman who returned to work and they didn’t even give her a desk for five weeks. For me, that‘s a toxic culture. If your firm is not going to be loyal and support you through this life change, go and work for someone who will. Come work for us. We need you!”
WORK180 is an international jobs network that connects smart businesses with talented women. We pre-screen every employer on our jobs board to see where they stand on pay equity, flexible working, paid parental leave, equal opportunities and a range of other criteria. We also take into account diversity initiatives focusing on age, ability, ethnicity and sexual orientation.
The information we uncover is made public on our website, so that everyone knows what to expect from each employer before applying for a job. We continually review and evolve our pre-screening criteria to ensure workplaces are fair and equal for everyone.
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