Primary carer leave critical to a diverse, inclusive and flexible workplace

As part of its continual evolution to create an increasingly diverse, inclusive and flexible workplace that enables people to realise their potential, Northrop has introduced a range of initiatives that it hopes will further increase its appeal as an employer of choice for talented, ambitious professionals within the engineering consulting industry.

Over the years, Northrop has embraced, nurtured and promoted a culture of empowerment and opportunity, which is reflected in almost 25 per cent of its technical workforce being female (compared to the industry average of less than 15 per cent).

The company is continually looking at ways to build a workplace that is increasingly attractive to a diverse group of prospective employees, as well as current employees.

The latest addition to that is a fully flexible parental leave scheme that aims to provide equality between parents and empower women to return to the workplace on their own terms.

“This policy has been a long time in the making – we went through a long period of consultation to ensure what we created was meaningful and made a true difference,” says Stephen Troilo, Manager, People & Culture at Northrop.

The new policy comprises:

  • four weeks of fully paid maternity leave for birthing mothers, and
  • eight weeks of fully paid primary carer leave, which can be taken flexibly. This can be taken by either parent, and is also open to adoptive parents.

“By offering paid leave in this way, we want to take away the societal expectation that it’s a woman’s role to stay home and be the primary carer,” says Stephen.

In addition, the eight weeks of paid primary carer leave can be taken in a flexible way that suits the family's personal circumstances.

Of course, some people may want to take more time off when their child is born. In this case, for the duration of any unpaid leave taken as primary carer, Northrop will continue to pay superannuation – a move that is designed to help close the super gap often experienced by women. 

“We hope these policies are just small steps in encouraging more women into the industry, and supporting them to stay in the industry too,” says Stephen.

“As a business, we want to retain talented people, support them through life events such as parenting children, and enable them to take up senior roles when the time is right.”

Creating an inclusive and diverse workforce and profession

As a business, Northrop is committed to diversity, inclusion and flexibility, and Stephen says the process of identifying areas for improvement has been confronting at times, but ultimately hugely satisfying.

“Over the past few years, we’ve run a series of workshops with our people to understand the barriers and challenges that exist – not just within the industry but close to home too.”

“It’s no secret that the industry has been heavily male-dominated, but we’re committed to changing that. We not only want a higher percentage of females in technical roles in the business, but we also want that percentage to be matched across all disciplines and levels within the organisation.”

“To achieve that, we need to lead the way with what we offer in terms of culture and flexibility – and by having female role models in the business, we hope to not only inspire people in the industry now, but also those who might be considering engineering as a career path.”

Of course, by creating a truly diverse and inclusive culture, the business benefits too.

“When you achieve that, you have diversity of thought, ideas and experience rather than homogenous thinking,” says Stephen.

“Ultimately that enables innovation, creativity and better solutions and outcomes for our clients, which is why we’re all here.”


Associate, Manager People & Culture
Stephen Troilo

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