Home' HR Monthly : September 2014 Contents 22
Director of ABC people,
Group general manager of
HR, Seven West Media
HR director – editorial,
manager, Fairfax Media
News Corp Australia
Industrial relations officer,
of f icer, Meat Employers’
JOINED THE ABC AS
DIRECTOR OF PEOPLE
IN MARCH 2013. SHE
SITS ON THE EXECUTIVE
TEAM AND REPORTS TO
LISTON HAS EXTENSIVE
EXPERIENCE IN HR
RELATIONS ROLES IN
THE MEDIA SECTOR,
WORKED FOR SOME OF
it comes back to continuing to remain trusted and
respected as a media organisation.”
Liston and her team are preparing for a worst-
case scenario, with the federal budget confirming
that the government would save $43.5 million over
four years from cuts to ABC and SBS base funding.
But a possible $120 million cut to the ABC over
four years, with potentially more to come, has also
“There is work that can be done, and is being done,
to prepare for that so we are on the front foot and can
manage that as effectively as possible,” says Liston.
She admits that when she took the job she initially
underestimated the extent of the focus of so many
watchful eyes on the ABC. “At the ABC, we have
many external stakeholders that we need to be
mindful of,” she says.
The ABC’s workforce is also heavily unionised,
which is something Liston is more comfortable
dealing with. The key to success, she says, is to
“communicate directly with your people and your
managers so they are hearing straight from you, as
well as from the unions”.
“Engaging honestly and constructively with
unions is also important. Never keep them out of the
process. They can be an important stakeholder in
Experience has taught her the importance of
planning and preparation when announcing large-
scale change projects and consulting with unions.
“You can’t prepare for all scenarios, but the more
groundwork you do, the more it’ll pay off in the end.”
Employer of choice
Despite the funding cuts and job losses, the ABC
continues to be a popular employer to work for in the
eyes of the broader Australian public.
This year, on the basis of votes from 9500 potential
jobseekers, and for the second year in a row, the
national broadcaster won the Randstad Award as
Australia’s most attractive employer.
Liston appreciates the recognition, but it doesn’t
surprise her. After all, she says, “most people don’t
work at the ABC for the money, but for the passion”.
They recognise that their role in delivering quality
content is important to Australian society and they
take that role very seriously.
But it’s not just the power of the brand that’s
created a positive perception. Having a passionate
team of HR professionals committed to the values of
integrity, respect, collegiality and innovation, is also
a big plus when it comes to creating a culture that
people want to work in, Liston believes.
Reflecting its audience
The ABC is also renowned for having a staff cohort
that truly reflects the diversity of the Australian
public. Its high regard for diversity is recognised
in its formal Reconciliation Action Plan, which is
underpinned by four focus areas: content, cultural
understanding and respect, community links, and
recruitment. Recruiting falls under Liston’s remit.
The action plan includes the measured goal of
achieving 2 per cent Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander employment. The ABC has recently achieved
this target, largely through identifying specific
positions for Indigenous recruitment and developing
new strategies for targeting Indigenous candidates.
Liston says that now the 2 per cent target has been
met, the ABC will set a further goal to fully reflect
the proportion of Australia’s Indigenous population,
which stands at 3 per cent.
When asked whether she thought quota-set ting
was the way to achieve results, Liston insists that,
Indigenous employment targets have been important
at the ABC in keeping this aspect of diversity from
getting lost in the day-to-day work activity.
“Without setting that target, specifically for
Indigenous employment, it would be very hard for us
to remain focused.”
The ABC also recognises its role in contributing
to the growth of Indigenous employment in the
industry by providing training and opportunities for
people who may move on to other media jobs. As it
is a public government institution, Liston describes
the ABC as the perfect environment to provide
Indigenous candidates a career break and training.
However, it’s not just Indigenous diversity that is
being emphasised, says Liston, there is also a focus
on all areas of diversity, with each state and division
having a Diversity Reference Group, which reports
back to management on strategies and targets.
Liston says the system is working well. “Some areas
of the business, like our technology division, have
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