Monthly Archives: April 2012

Worried about working-from-home issues? Trial it.



mums@work helps organisations implement family friendly working solutions.

Running a pilot program to identify potential issues can help an organisation decide whether working from home arrangements should be made broadly available, says the manager of a team that now has two-thirds of its employees in home-based work, and much higher retention rates as a result.

Tim Wainwright, who manages a team of 130 staff at Aegis Australia, says 90 of these people telework, including up to 70 on any given day. Some work from home exclusively, while others spread their time between home and the office.

The workers – engaged as contact centre agents performing “back office” tasks for utility client Jemena – do identical work to that of their peers in the office, he says.

Before rolling out the scheme across the division, Aegis conducted a pilot program involving 10 staff. This was primarily to assess the technology issues that might arise, given a crucial requirement of staff is to be contactable and connected to the system at all times.

The trial ran for about six months, during which time Aegis “ironed out technology bugs, telephoney problems, and internet service provider problems”, Wainwright says.

One issue the pilot identified was that, “people coming into the office know how to do the job that they’re doing, but they’re not necessarily computer literate. They don’t know the ins and outs of networking, and installing applications. The environment we run – Citrix – is fairly well controlled, but they still have to install software at home. So it was a matter of documenting all the problems [the workers in the pilot] faced and ensuring that the manuals we send them home with will actually step them through things precisely”.

At Aegis, teleworkers have to meet their own costs of setting up workstations, and must follow a 26-point checklist of “minimum requirements” or teleworking, regarding safety and technology (see related article). Wainwright says this meant some employees had to invest in their home workspace, “but [they] decided that the benefits they’re going to get from working from home, financially, are going to more than offset the costs to them”.    

Retention rates more than doubled

The attrition rate in the Aegis team with remote access has run around seven per cent over the past 12 months, Wainwright says, compared to 20 per cent for the balance of that particular call centre. He calls the result “staggering” for an industry with a traditionally high churn rate.

Based on this, he would be happy to give the entire division remote access, but due to the nature of the work – involving a 24/7 contact centre for electricity faults and emergencies – “operating fully remote is risky from the point of view of the agents’ business continuity at home; a generator and UPS are mission-critical”.

Wainwright attributes the high retention to the increased flexibility employees have when teleworking. “They can work hours to suit their own requirements, although there are of course some limitations,” he says. (Workers must contact their team leader daily, and sign an agreement stipulating their start and finish parameters, and KPIs – see related article.)

“The big advantage for most of our workers is that they don’t have to commute to work. This can save some employees more than 10 hours every week. They also save on travel expenses, parking, and our carbon footprint as a company is reduced.”    

“Team” time still important

Although working remotely, the teleworkers are still very much part of a team and are required to attend the office for briefings, to discuss things like systems problems and process changes.

“They still have to work together with their team. While they may be working from home on a task, their task is interdependent, usually before they get it and then after it leaves them. So it’s very important to keep open lines of communication amongst the team, and that they know who they’re working with on a day to day basis, so they have the appropriate amount of rapport with them, and they can pick up the phone and say ‘Hey, this has come to me – what’s the situation?’” Wainwright says.

“Usually when they have team briefs, they haven’t seen each other for up to a month. They might do lunch at the same time, so it becomes a social event for them as well. Everyone gets to sit down and have a chat, do the business as well but then also have a bit of socialising at the same time.”    

Lessons learned

Aegis has learned that teleworking tends not to suit extroverted personalities who enjoy socialising at work, and has warned workers who fit this bill that the arrangements might not be sustainable for them.

“We’ve had people we’ve talked to about that before they’ve gone home, because we know what their personality is like, and we’ve said, ‘Don’t feel that if it doesn’t work for you you’re a failure’. We understand that it’s not for everyone; we’ve had people who’ve done it for a few weeks and said they can’t deal with the solitude – it’s too quiet. Sitting there staring at a computer screen all day doesn’t necessarily bode well for them,” Wainwright says.

Teleworking does suit an older demographic, he says. “Our average age is much higher than a typical call centre… We’ve got a lot of mothers, a fairly high proportion of our people are over 40.” The more “transient” workers typically found in call centres “tend not to have the focus that we need”.

He says teleworking could be an option for “pretty much any organisation where the key tasks are systems-based”.

“As soon as you start involving a lot of paperwork, and faxes, it gets more challenging.”
Source: hr daily

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Gov’t Press Release: More Women executives on Australian Government Boards

Women are becoming more influential on Australian Government boards with female executives filling 35.3 per cent of Government board positions in the last financial year.

The latest figures are contained in the annual Gender Balance on Australian Government Boards Report released today by the Minister for the Status of Women, Julie Collins, at the National Assembly for Gender Equity and Inclusion in Melbourne.

Ms Collins said the progress being made showed the Gillard Government is on track to meet its target of having at least 40 per cent of Government board positions filled by women by 2015.

“The Australian Government is leading by example when it comes to women’s representation on boards,” Ms Collins said.

“The 35 per cent of women on Government boards is an all-time high and we will continue to work hard to achieve greater gender balance on the nation’s boards and in leadership roles.

“Looking ahead, 11 portfolios have already awarded at least 40 per cent of their new board appointments to women.

“For the year 2010-11, four government portfolios met or exceeded the gender balance target of 40 per cent, while eight portfolios had between 30 and 40 per cent women on their boards.

“These figures are a positive sign the 40 per cent target is helping to create a change in attitudes towards women and leadership.

“Targets like this are an important part of the Government’s ongoing efforts to give women equal opportunity in leadership and participation throughout the economy.

“Women remain under-represented in senior leadership and management positions in virtually all sectors, with only 13.8 per cent of ASX200 board members being women.

“The Government is calling on all Australian organisations to continue to support greater participation of women on boards and in leadership positions,” Ms Collins said.
The report is available at http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/sa/women/pubs/govtint/Pages/default.aspx

Source: The Hon Julie Collins MP

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PwC, BT and Diageo rewarded for gender diversity progress

Opportunity Now awards recognise equality initiatives
 

PwC, BT and Diageo were among the winners at the Opportunity Now awards last night, which rewards employers who have made progress in improving gender diversity at work.

More than 500 business leaders gathered for the event, now in its 17th year, to celebrate organisations that put gender issues at the heart of their business.

The Champion Award was picked by Helena Morrissey CBE, chief executive at Newton Investment Management, a BNY Mellon company, for championing the leadership of women in financial services over the past decade.

PwC won the Inclusive Culture Award for its Open Mind programme, which trains people to understand unconscious bias and its impact. So far 15,872 people in the organisation have received this training in an effort to embed diversity at a cultural level.

Gaenor Bagley, PwC’s head of people, said: “Diversity is one of our top priorities. What’s most important is whether our people believe we are doing the right thing for them and of course it’s always encouraging to be recognised by external bodies.

“We are delighted to receive this accolade as we continue our efforts to improve gender equality through, for example, our people networks, mentoring and recruitment programmes and newly formed diversity council.”

Diageo received the Female FTSE 100 Award for having the most women on its board (44 per cent). This is well above the most recent average figures for FTSE 100 firms of 15.6 per cent. The award was presented in partnership with Cranfield School of Management.

The Directing Diverse Talent Award, presented in association with the CIPD, went to GE Capital’s senior HR manager Roshni Haywood, for her strategy to deliver a fast-track talent pipeline for senior female leaders.

Computer manufacturer Dell took home the Agile Organisation Award for its Connected Workplace programme that promotes flexible job design and work environments, which has enabled 65 per cent of its UK employees to work remotely.

This year Opportunity Now partnered with the Home Office to create a new Transparency Award to recognise an organisation that has taken significant first steps to voluntarily publish its gender metrics in the public domain. The prize was won by telecoms giant BT.

Three banks also scooped top awards: Credit Suisse took home the Advancing Women in the Workplace Award for its mentoring scheme, Deutsche Bank collected the Global Award for its ATLAS programme to boost the number of senior women internationally, and Goldman Sachs won the Santander Award ‘Inspiring the Workforce of the Future’, for broadening the diversity of its undergraduate candidates.

Alison Platt, chair of Opportunity Now and CMG divisional managing director, Europe and North America for Bupa, said: “This agenda is about utilising the best talent to gain competitive advantage, it is not about tokenism. For more than two decades Opportunity Now has been working with leading businesses that recognise the tangible benefits of a diverse and fully engaged workforce. These employers understand that creating workplaces that work for women is a commercial imperative, not a women’s issue.”

 
Source: PM

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Women in leadership: Getting Serious

Westpac chief executive Gail Kelly tells an International Women’s Day lunch in Sydney on March 7 that more career paths to management are needed for women. Photo: Louie Douvis

The next part of the diversity conversation has to be about the benefits to customers, according to Woolworths human resources director Kim Schmidt.

“It’s the next level of the conversation: the benefits diversity brings to customers and the community, and the synergy we get from that,” Schmidt says. “Our cus­tomers mainly are female, and if you get diversity around the table and in thinking, you get better outcomes for business and customers. That’s the next phase.”

At the moment, Schmidt argues, we’re still trying to convince certain businesses it’s a good idea to get the right people in. But there’s been a move in the psyche of Australians and growing awareness of the need for greater change.

Social change often moves in this way, says Schmidt, who grew up in South Africa and observed how change occurred in the lead up to the dismantling of apartheid.

The time is certainly right for a deeper understanding of the diversity message in many companies, states Sally Herman, former Westpac executive, a board director and a council member of Chief Executive Women. The organisation is working with a handful of companies to establish the most useful gender parity resources. And ­Herman has been involved in relaunching the group’s CEO Tool Kit, which it introduced about six years ago as a diagnostic aid.

There’s less need for diagnosis now, and more cause for stimulating action.

“In the three companies we are working with, the senior executive team do get it, but where the challenges are is the next level in the organisation and breaking down the stereotypical responses,” Herman says. “In one of these companies, one of the executives went to a women’s forum and spent the day talking to women about the things they had to do to just get to work in the morning, and he came back and said he had no idea.”

CEW plans to offer an online tool suitable for a broad range of companies, plus the opportunity for its members to share their experience with senior executives from 15 to 20 companies a year.

Chief executives handle a range of business changes and this is just another one of them, Herman says. A number of large companies were well beyond the first phase in gender parity progress – getting focused on it – and are moving on to deeper issues, such as how to think about flexibility and the link to productivity.

Meanwhile, mentoring efforts to get more women on boards and in senior jobs need to continue, alongside levers like targets for female representatives, Herman says.

There’s still a wide gap between intention and outcome in gender parity, as a 2011 study of 842 senior business people by Bain and Company and CEW found.

Only 15 per cent of women believed they had equal opportunity (compared with 20 per cent in 2010) for promotion to senior management. With all the focus on parity, the slow pace of change is confounding, the survey states.

There is progress but measuring and monitoring must continue, Herman says. Westpac was at the forefront in the late 1990s and early 2000s when efforts were measured and reported. However, when that stopped, progress stalled.

So the to-do list for 2012 includes a more subtle but critically important task. It’s about a steady dismantling of the preconceptions and myths around gender and workplaces that still hold sway with men and women.

Focusing on both the formal requirements as well as attitude change throughout organisations is the key to a different way of thinking about people, jobs and productivity.

Sure, this requires an investment but not financially. It’s about vocal champions challenging some of the enduring and inaccurate beliefs.

These include: women lack ambition and don’t want promotions; workplaces are meritocracies; mothers don’t want careers; the pay gap is exaggerated; time will heal all. With so much activity around the business diversity agenda over the past 18 months, there’s an unusual opportunity to translate talk into action this year.

WHERE WE ARE NOW


At the end of the 2011-12 financial year, all companies listed in Australia will be required to report under the new Corporate Governance Council Diversity guidelines. Private companies will be covered by similar legislation expected before federal parliament this year. The revised Equal Opportunity in the Workplace legislation and agency will require companies with 100-plus employees to provide annual gender reports.

There are early adopters who already report and a number of leading companies – including the big four banks, Telstra and Woolworths – have set targets for women in management, with progress to be tracked this year.

And after a boost in the number of women joining boards, which went from 8 per cent in 2010 to 13.8 per cent last year, the Australian Institute of Company Directors is continuing with an expanded mentoring scheme, pairing 76 company chairs with 80 aspiring directors.

More companies are conducting audits to address the pay gap and at times the results have been revelatory.

An encouraging number of CEOs have joined the conversation. The Male Champions of Change group set up by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick includes the CEOs of some of the country’s biggest listed companies, plus federal Treasury head Martin Parkinson.

The group is setting an example – and others are following. In South Australia, the Chiefs for Gender Equity is a group of male CEOs brought together by Anne Burgess, acting SA Commissioner for Equal Opportunity. Its nine members include Santos chief David Knox and Elders chief Malcolm Jackman. They have committed to using their experience and influence to support and drive change. Talent management, redesigning work practices and recruitment to deal with skill shortages are on their agenda over the next few months.

Source: Financial Review

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HR Summit coming to Perth and Melbourne

The National HR Summit held recently in Sydney attracted record crowds as over 800 HR professionals gathered at Luna Park for two days of learning and inspiration.

Feedback from attendees has been overwhelmingly positive and for interstate HR practitioners, the good news is that the HR Summit is headed to a city near you. Mark your calendars for one of the following:

HR Summit Perth 13-14 June 2012

HR Summit Melbourne 19-20 July 2012

HR Summit Brisbane 18-19 October 2012

Each event will offer a unique 2-day program comprising case studies from HR directors and informative presentations from experts on the trends shaping the industry. As well as the opportunity to meet and hear from true industry leaders, delegates will also be able to find out about some of the latest HR products and services on offer from a select number of exhibitors at each event.
Here’s what the HR industry had to say about the recent National HR Summit:

  • “Great conference, relevant speakers and good topics.”
    - Alina Morris, group HR advisor, The Coffee Club Group
  • “The conference is excellent. The intellectual capital in one place is exciting.”
    - Kylie Panzram, HR manager, Sunshine Coast TAFE
  • “The most worthwhile HR conference that I have attended in a very long time.”
    - Melina Udwadia, HR manager & OSH coordinator, Western Australian Treasury Corporation

For more information visit www.hrsummit.com.au and click on the city closest to you. Registration is now open for these events and early bird discounts are available for a limited time.

Source: hc mag

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Break the glass ceiling or miss out on government deals

If passed, a new Bill will mandate that any company that receives taxpayer-funded assistance or has a government contract on the books will be incentivised to ensure they promote equal opportunities for women.

The Bill states that any company that doesn’t promote women equally would “not be eligible to compete for contracts under the Commonwealth procurement framework and may not be eligible for Commonwealth grants”. The Federal Government Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Amendment Bill was introduced to parliament last month, and a Senate review committee has now released public submissions.

The proposed changes mean companies would be assigned targets to promote women to management positions and provide them with equal training and promotion opportunities. Currently no financial penalty is imposed on companies that do not actively promote female advancement, but they are “named and shamed” by the Federal Government.

Business SA has denounced the bill as “social Stalinist engineering”, and chief executive Peter Vaughan said the measures, which would force promotion and other targets to benefit female employees, would be unworkable. “Once again we have those who wish to social-engineer outcomes, then seek to enforce them by penalties rather than by reward,” he said. “When you look at Australia compared to anywhere in the world, the ability to utilise skills in the workforce regardless of any other agenda like gender, sexuality and ethnicity is front-and-centre because of the skills shortage.”
What the new Bill proposes:

  • Changes the name of the Act to the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 to emphasise the focus on gender equality in the workplace
  • Expansion of the coverage of the Act to include men, as well as women, particularly in relation to caring responsibilities
  • For the reporting period commencing 1 April 2013, a relevant employer would have to prepare and lodge a public report containing information relating to gender equality indicators
  • Smaller organisations with fewer than 100 employees would not be required to report, but they would be able to access the agency’s advice, education and incentive activities
  • Organisations would be able to measure their performance against other similar organisations
  • Businesses would be able to complete and submit reports online using a secure web-portal
  • The gender equality indicators set out in the Act include reporting on equal remuneration for men and women
  • Equal remuneration is explicitly referred to in the objects of the Act. Organisations will be required to report on pay data, but salary data will be removed from the public reports
  • The new Bill will also allow for more transparency in reporting – it will be a requirement that public reports be signed by the chief executive officer and this will help ensure that management at the highest level engages in the issue of gender equality
  • A relevant employer must inform employees and shareholders that the report has been lodged and employees and employee organisations will then be provided with the opportunity to comment on the report
  • Consequences for non-compliance, without reasonable excuse, include naming the employer in a report to the Minister or naming the employer by other means
  • There are also possible consequences in relation to Commonwealth procurement, grants and financial assistance

Source: hc mag

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Insurer to pay double wages in parental leave breakthrough

Insurance Australia Group (IAG) has announced it will pay all new mums double wages for their first six weeks back at work as part of a 20-week paid maternity leave package that sets the pace in the race for providing best parental leave benefits.

The company, which owns CGU and NRMA Insurance, will offer the generous bonus package to all eligible employees of its 10,000-strong workforce from today. Women applying for maternity leave at IAG will receive 14 weeks’ paid leave, which was formerly the standard offering, and now an additional six weeks’ worth of double pay upon their return to work.

Notably, when combined with the federal government’s 18 weeks’ paid parental leave, women working at the insurer will effectively get almost a year’s wages while off work caring for children. IAG relationships manager Rebecca Isaachsen said the financial stress of having children was significantly eased by the bonus salary and would be a valuable incentive to returning mums.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions hailed the move as significant advance for women, and urged other companies to follow IAG’s lead. However, organisations without the means to offer such packages may be left scratching their head on how to stay competitive.

Harnessing the potential of women returning to work after maternity or extended leave is a shared responsibility, according to Shayne Nealon from Peter Berry Consultancy, and is only possible by having the right kinds of conversations and providing tailored support.

Mercy Health, a recognised employer of choice for women for a fifth consecutive year, has been a leader in support initiatives for mothers returning to work, all of which have delivered improved business outcomes, including decreased employee turnover, an impressive retention rate of 98% and a reduction in sick leave during school holiday periods.

Mercy Health’s flexible work practices for mothers include: 

  • Parent’s network provides people on parental leave with access to an employee group who like themselves are absent from the workplace caring for children. The Parent’s Network gives parents the opportunity to share their experiences, socialise and stay connected with each other and the workplace.
  • Childcare referral service provides employees with access to consultants who can research the availability of child care to suit individual needs.
  • School holiday program assists staff and other parents in the local community to balance work and parenting responsibilities through tailored activities (it followed an analysis of sick leave data which showed parents were taking more sick leave during school holidays than at other times of the year).
  • Mercy Bank program is an internally managed pool of employees on parental leave and other casual employees, established to fill ad hoc shifts without affecting leave entitlements or continuity of service.
  • Breastfeeding facilities accredited by the Australian Breastfeeding Association are available for employees and volunteers across all sites.

Source: hc mag

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Part-time female workers earn more than men, figures show

 
 
Analysis shows headline gender pay gap is ‘misleading’ says business group

Women working part-time earn more on average than men in a reversal of the traditional gender pay gap, according to a new analysis of official statistics.

Full-time male workers earn 11.7 per cent more than their female counterparts, but the opposite was true for part-time employees, the Federation of European Employers (FedEE) said.

The median hourly earnings for part-time women last year were 4.8 per cent higher than for part-time men, at £8.03 and £7.66 respectively, with the difference attributable to wages recorded within the 22 to 39-year-old age group.

“This shows how the overall figures for the gender pay gap are highly misleading,” said Robin Chater, the secretary-general of the FedEE.

“The size of the gap is largely because a much higher proportion of women work part-time than men, and part-time earnings for both genders are lower than for full-time work. Where women compete on equal terms with men – in the part-time jobs market – they actually earn more than men.”

The FedEE analysis was of figures released last week by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Its 2011 Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings showed that median gross weekly earnings for full-time employees were £498. For men, full-time wages were £538, compared with £440 for women.

The statistics also found that salaries for full-time staff were highest in London at £649, and lowest in Northern Ireland at £446.

Meanwhile, a report from the GMB union compiled from separate ONS population data, revealed that the largest proportion of part-time workers in Great Britain could be found in the south-west, where 28.5 per cent of the workforce were employed on a part-time basis.

This was followed by Wales (27.4 per cent) and the south-east (26.9 per cent) – the region which also recorded the largest number of part-time staff at 1,080,700. London was the region with the lowest proportion of part-time workers at 21.6 per cent.

At a more local level, the Shetland Islands was the council area with the greatest share of part-timers at 34.3 per cent, followed by the Isle of Wight at 33.6 per cent. Westminster had the smallest proportion at 12.7 per cent.

Overall, 25.7 per cent – or 7,222,500 – of British employees worked part-time, said the study. But many of these employees would prefer a full-time job, the union claimed.

“This mushrooming of part-time jobs is often at the expense of full-time employment and on too many occasions part-time working is characterised by low pay, insecurity and bad conditions,” said Kamaljeet Jandu, GMB’s equality national officer.

 
Source: PM

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Gender workplace statistics at a glance

Women’s workforce participation
• Women make up 45.6% of the total labour force.1

•Women constitute 70.2% of all part-time employees and 35.3% of all full-time employees.2

The gender pay gap
• On average, women working full-time earn 17.8% less than men working full-time.3

Female graduates earn $2,000 per annum less than male graduates on entering the workforce.4

36.6% of EOWA reporting organisations said they conducted an annual gender pay equity analysis in 2011.5

Paid parental leave
53.9% of organisations reporting to EOWA provide paid maternity leave with an average duration of 9.5 weeks.6

36.9% now provide paid paternity leave.7

Women in leadership

Real-time data8

13.5% of directors in the ASX 200 are women.

61 women have been appointed to ASX 200 boards in 2011 (compared with 59 in total in 2010).

Women represent 29% of all new appointments to ASX 200 boards in 2011, compared with 25% in 2010.

65 ASX 200 companies do not have a woman on their board.

Point in time data9 
The 2010 EOWA Australian Census of Women in Leadership (Census) revealed that there had been little overall change to the number of female board directors and senior managers in the ASX 200 since 2008. It established that, as at 30 April 2010, women in the ASX 200 made up:

2.5% of chairs;

3.0% of CEOs;

8.4% of board directors; and •8.0% of executive managers.

 

NOTE: THIS DOCUMENT IS UPDATED QUARTERLY.

______________________________________________________________________

1 ABS, Cat. 6202.0, Labour Force, Australia, Status by Sex – Trend, Table 1, (Released 17.11.11) 2 Ibid. 3 ABS, Cat. 6302.0, Average Weekly Earnings – Trend, February 2011 (Released 17.11.11) 4 Graduate Careers Australia, Gradstats 2011 (Dec 2011) 5 EOWA, (2011), Annual Report 2010-11 6 EOWA, (2011), EOWA Annual Survey Results, Paid Maternity Leave 7 Ibid. 8 AICD Statistics, as at 4th January 2012 on http://www.companydirectors.com.au/Director-Resource-Centre/Governance-and-Director-Issues/Board-Diversity/Statistics. Last updated 7 December 2011 9 EOWA Australian Census of Women in Leadership (2010), available at http://www.eowa.gov.au/Information_Centres/Resource_Centre/EOWA_Publications/EOWA_Census/2010_Census/2010_Census_Report.asp The Census is conducted every two years.

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