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Why the dog hates me

04 April 2013

We haven’t had much rain in Melbourne this year but when we do I know, whether I’m there or not.

It’s the pools of water on the floor from my leaking roof that are the give away. A new roof, mind you, with a new leak.

I’ve stayed home before to have it fixed, unsuccessfully. Then the other day, I took advantage of our flexible work practices to work from home, so a couple of plumbers and a roof specialist due early in the morning could do their best to clear up the problem once and for all. They were still messing around squeezing silicone at 10.30am.

Meanwhile, I was dressed, breakfasted, well into my work and planning the rest of the day, when they said they thought it was solved. Not a leak around the skylight but, as I suspected, a leak somewhere else that then ran to the skylight and found its way out there.

Hmm, I thought: rain due this weekend, let’s hope it’s fixed. Then I caught a glimpse of the clock, and realised there was just enough time to grab the shower I’d had to miss, and still be ready for the next piece of ‘home work’ I’d managed to squeeze in around work work: the delivery of my new front loader washing machine.

20 years I’ve had my old top loader, but the other day it spectacularly gave up the ghost. The new one, despite the fact I am still picking my self up off the floor at the price of white goods, was to be delivered today.
(I’m more than happy to spend a reasonable stipend on my wardrobe each year, but I balk at the price of washing machines. It just goes to show where the value proposition lies for me.)

And right at that moment, the computer technician rings to say he’s had a cancellation and can come round and fix up my home system. Today is like winning the lottery. I’ve been waiting months for the tech guy to be able to do a home visit and workplace flexibility was providing me with the opportunity to capitalise on a stroke of good luck.

I’ve been waiting for the computer guy since the last chick flew the nest, some months ago now. She took with her a bunch of passwords she can no longer remember while conveniently forgetting to take our much beloved family dog.
Unlike the passwords, he was meant to go with her because I am away so much it’s unfair.

The ‘holiday house’, as he thinks of life with my daughters, recently became permanent and he’s high fiving his luck. It’s free range not only on the sofa but the bed, and he has his food cooked.

I miss him but I know he’s not even secretly unhappy about the change. In fact, when I visit he scuttles out of sight, hoping what I can’t see I won’t remember to take home. Convinced his strategy’s working, I’m not mean enough to disappoint him, but my presence guarantees him a fright.

Roof done, washing machine delivered, home computer system back on board and in my name, these are just some of the things I squeezed in around a day working at home.

Thinking about it, I have to admit, give me the stresses of work to the stress of, say, choosing a washing machine, any day.

My daughters have a lot to answer for, including convincing me to drop my baby boomer top loader habits for a front loader. All well and good, but my washing has always been a bit haphazard and the flexibility of being able to open the lid and drop some forgotten item in when I please, or, stop the wash and remove a piece that is going to shrink in that heat, is a god send for someone like me. The idea of watching a favourite top shrink before my eyes in the inflexible front loader has my blood boiling already.

Like social media, mobile phones and ATMs – I’m not sure what we’d do without the choice and convenience flexibility provides.

Flexibility, it’s not just a buzzword. It’s a practical concept around which the very best workplaces are able to create diversity. For many women, who are often carrying the lion share of the home care on top of their paid work time, flexible work practices are a lifesaver. I’m just one example.

61 per cent of Westpac’s workforce is female and more than 48 per cent of them work flexibly. As for the whole operation, 62 per cent of staff works flexibly both formally and informally. 82 per cent have indicated a requirement to work flexibly over the next three years, which is up from 56 per cent in 2010. They’re impressive statistics and ones that have gone some way to making us one of the top 10 most sustainable corporations globally.

We had a fantastic International Women’s Day party for Ruby and a media lunch at which Gail Kelly, Westpac’s CEO, announced a number of new targets and initiatives around diversity and female leadership further strengthening our position in that space.

Certainly we made the largest splash on the day, keeping the flag flying around all the hard work that’s been done in the past – and being done now – to progress women in leadership in our communities, workplaces and wider society.

On that note, let’s not forget our global impact. I’m off to speak about Ruby and what we do in the women’s markets space at a World Bank conference in Brazil in April and then another in Dubai in May. Following those, in June, I have the Global Banking Alliance annual summit in Turkey, where I will again be providing unique and positive examples of how the women of Australia and financial institutions such as Westpac and initiatives like Ruby work together to increase diversity and participation by women at all levels of work and society.

Now, I’m off for dinner with my daughters and to give Percy, beloved dog, the fright of his life.



  • Holdorf Holdorf

    Holdorf Holdorf 7 years ago

    Hello Larke! I love my new Top Loader, its even made of stainless steel just like in the good old days! Plus gives me more flexibility in being able to stop mid cycle lol! Having your husband as you business partner who also is the computer tech / IT guy is a huge bonus too!

  • Larke Riemer

    Larke Riemer 7 years ago

    Lovely to hear from you Susie and Karin Jealous of that fabulous weather on the Gold Coast. Look out for our Ruby Lunch in Brisbane with Gail as our keynote speaker. It will go up on Ruby in August. Off to Brazil on Monday Susie just for the week - hope to get a bit of free time to look around between meetings. Perhaps some shopping! Keep well. Larke x

  • Karin Hanna

    Karin Hanna 7 years ago

    Hi, what a funny, insightful writer you are, i agree flexibility is a god send and i am heartened to see the positive outcomes for all concerned. My beloved dog Chloe is lying under my feet in my new home office( once a garage) and my washing is drying as i study for my Cross Cultural exam on Sunday, my daughter is at school and the sun is shining here on my beloved gold coast. I look forward to learning more about leadership, flexibility and women's initiatives from you, Ruby and Gail Kelly. Cheers to you!

  • Susie Norton

    Susie Norton 7 years ago

    Hi There Larke, Just loved the article. I couldn't agree more about "front" loaders". Hate not being able to open during cycle & slip that forgotten piece of clothing in the machine. And, they don't wash as well....I don't think! And, thanks to technology available now, I too have the option of working from home....fabulous having the flexibility. Sounds like a busy time ahead for you. I will carry your bags for you in June...just looooove Turkey! Cheers, Susie x