How diversity, inclusion and flexibility have created BPAY Group's culture

- By Collaborative Media & Publishing
BPAY Group has more than halved the organisation's gender pay gap over recent years by fostering a culture based on diversity, inclusion and flexibility.

While it represents a significant advancement, the journey is far from over according to BPAY Group General Manager, People and Culture, Lucy Lithgow.

"We've been focused on minimising the gender pay gap that existed – which is shocking at the financial services level – and we've been able to whittle it down," she said.

BPAY Group has taken a variety of strategies to tackle unconscious bias, such as ensuring language is gender neutral in job advertisements, and creating specific targets within its balanced scorecard, which measures performance.

"We have an aspirational goal to see the number of women appointed to senior roles increase on what we had last year. And likewise, we want to increase the ethnic diversity of our leaders, so we've also set a goal there."

Embracing the benefits of diversity

Gone are the days when diversity meant just ticking boxes. Now organisations are starting to embrace diversity and inclusion given a significant body of research underlines its benefits.

For example, research by Deloitte showed workplace performance improved when employees felt included and that they operate in a diverse workplace[1]. Data from one organisation showed that if just 10% more employees felt included, the company could increase attendance by almost one day per year (6.5 hours) per employee.

A 2009 US study (Does Diversity Pay?: Race, Gender, and the Business Case for Diversity) found organisations with greater gender and race diversity performed better across measures such as sales revenue, number of customers, market share and profits[2].

BPAY Group's decision to acknowledge the benefits of diversity within its business played a key factor in its being ranked as an Employer of Choice in the Australian Business Awards and one of Australia’s top five Best Places to Work by Great Place to Work.

BPAY also encourages the broader financial services industry and community to embrace the benefits of diversity.

BPAY Group CIO Angela Donohoe has a passion for encouraging women to take part in STEM areas and arranged the organisation's first sponsorship for a UTS Women in Engineering and IT undergraduate.

She, along with other leaders in the business, also mentor women through BPAY Group's Women’s Forum, which was set up to help women support each other and boost their confidence.

Lithgow says for real change to occur, women needed a supportive environment to build their confidence and self-esteem given that typically, many women wait on the sidelines because they believe they don't have the perfect resume.

"It's about letting these women know that there are possibilities out there – to not hold yourself back because of your self-doubts and your lack of confidence."

Flexible work gets more flexible

A lack of flexible work arrangements has also proved an impediment to achieving an equitable workplace. The WGEA says it is a factor, especially in senior roles, that drives the gender pay gap[3].

Women tend to have more time out of the workforce for caring responsibilities, and higher rates of part-time positions[4], while the impact of the coronavirus pandemic is still playing out on workplaces.

“COVID has really turned the world upside down and we've been forced, like many organisations, to adapt quickly to a remote working environment – we've been doing it successfully now for over a year. That made us question our notions of flexibility,” Lithgow says.

BPAY Group had already removed part-time and full-time designations to ensure it was attracting the best candidates.

Now employees have choice about where they work each day, whether that’s in the office or remotely– an extension of the activity-based workplace practices already in place at BPAY Group pre-COVID.

"With this choice comes responsibility however and we ask our people to consider the needs of their team, the wider business and their customers to determine where they work for the day," she says.

"We are also focused on driving social connection and belonging, so teams are being encouraged to establish ‘in person’ rituals so that they can come together, connect and have some fun."

Lithgow says greater flexibility will also allow more people to return to the workforce after time out for family or other reasons.

For example, one BPAY Group employee recently wanted to extend her parental leave because she thought full-time work during traditional hours wasn't feasible. Under the new flexibility regime, full-time work is a reality.

"She could structure her day around pick-ups and wanting to do something with her child," she said. "I think it could potentially encourage others to think more creatively and open up a lot of possibilities for both men and women."

Broader changes across society

The WGEA estimates for every hour that men perform unpaid care and domestic work, women perform one hour and 48 minutes[5]. However, research also shows that men are twice as likely as women to have their requests to work flexibly rejected[6].

To tackle this problem, BPAY Group encourages male employees to get involved in International Women’s Day events to talk about and share their experiences achieving a better work-life balance.

"One of the things we try and do is encourage our male leaders to demonstrate that they are making use of various leave options so that other men can see that it’s OK and hopefully follow suit."

There is more work to do, and forward-looking organisations such as BPAY Group are leading the way. The HRD Innovative HR Teams report recently recognised BPAY Group's People & Culture team for their outstanding work managing and supporting people in a year marked by a pandemic.

"We pride ourselves on our diverse and inclusive culture and are committed to ensuring equality for all,” Lithgow said.
[1] Waiter, is that inclusion in my soup? A new strategy to improve business performance. (2014, April 30). Retrieved from 
[2] Does Diversity Pay?: Race, Gender, and the Business Case for Diversity on JSTOR. (2021, February 25). Retrieved from
[3] The Gender Pay Gap | WGEA. (2021, February 25). Retrieved from
[4] The Gender Pay Gap | WGEA. (2021, February 25). Retrieved from
[5] The Gender Pay Gap | WGEA. (2021, March 01). Retrieved from
[6] The power of flexibility. (2016, January 26). Retrieved from

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