Virgin Blue Triumphs over Quantas
Virgin Blue triumphed over rival Qantas after it was named as Australia’s most attractive employer at the Randstad awards last week.


With the ceremony marking its first ever appearance Down Under, all eyes were on the prize to be named as the county’s top employer, as decided by the Australian public.

Senior executives and HR directors watched on as Virgin Blue were announced overall winners, ahead of Qantas and BHP Billiton, who came second and third respectively.

Other winners on the night included BHP Billiton who beat Rio Tinto in the mining category of the best employer, and also Macquarie Bank who beat Commonwealth Bank and AMP in the finance sector.

Virgin Blue HR Director, Richard Tanner accepted the award on behalf of the company and started by announcing that ‘he loved beating Qantas’.

“We know from experience that we have retained a competitive edge as an employer of choice not because of the remuneration or senior packages that we offer, but fundamentally because we have a unique culture,” said Tanner. “We challenge the way things are normally done, and we encourage innovation whilst remaining relevant.”

The award will come as a boost for Virgin Blue who has had a tough 2011 so far, most notably plagued by controversy following discrimination claims from two former female employees earlier in the year.

Working in the public relations department, both women were made redundant in June last year, after a company restructure failed to incorporate their current positions, allegedly because one was pregnant and the other was taking parental leave.

Hitting back at the critics and the media, Tanner said that Virgin Blue was a leader in issues surrounding diversity and equality, and noted that over half of the workforce was female.

“Notwithstanding the recent media, we are an industry leader of supporting women in the workplace,” he said. “In fact half of our executive team are female, which is something unheard of within the aviation industry, and indeed, across most industries.”

“We have a range of measures to ensure that women are able to take breaks from work and remain connected to the workplace and come back to the work environment successfully.”

Speaking at the ceremony was recently appointed Randstad CEO Fred van der Tang who commended Virgin Blue for setting the standard in the first Australian Randstad awards.

“Since entering the Australian market eleven years ago, Virgin Blue has built upon its reputation as one of the nation’s most respected brands,” van der Tang explained.

“As Australia’s first ever Randstad Award winner, Virgin Blue can now confidently lay claim to being Australia’s most attractive employer, having received an overwhelming endorsement from Australian jobseekers.”

Considering factors such as workplace culture, job satisfaction, remuneration packages, work-life balance, location and career progression opportunities, over 7,000 Australian jobseekers took part in the survey which aimed to give a snapshot into the attractiveness of employers in the country.

Source: HR Leader April 2011

“The stakes for Australian companies are high,” said van der Tang. “With a talent war looming, the ability of Australian companies to attract and retain the best and brightest employees will prove invaluable in their race to secure greater market share and outperform their competitors.”