Harnessing Australia’s Older Female Workforce - Report
23 May 2013 at 11:49 am
New research exploring how workplaces use the skills and talents of Australia’s older female workforce has found these women represent a sizeable and growing segment of the labour force but Australian organisations are failing to harness their skills and talents.
Furthermore, the study found that Australia’s performance in this area lags substantially behind comparable countries, such as New Zealand.
Diversity Council Australia, in partnership with the Australian Human Rights Commission and with Sageco,undertook the research, called Older Women Matter: Harnessing the Talents of Australia’s Older Female Workforce.
The study investigated how underutilised older women are and what employers can do to better harness their skills and talents.
Older women constitute 17% of Australia’s workforce with 45% of women aged 45 and over now in the labour force compared to less than a quarter (24%) in 1978.
“Older women’s participation in the labour market is substantially lower than men’s in all age groups − as much as 17 points lower for women aged 55-64. The underemployment rate for women aged 45 and over is 6.5% compared to 4.7% for men of the same age,” the report said.
“The most recent comparable data shows participation rates for Australian women aged 55-64 of 54.9% compared to 72% in Sweden, 69.8% in New Zealand, 59.5% in the US and 57.4% in Canada. If Australia had the same participation of people aged 55+ as New Zealand, GDP in 2012 would have been 4% higher.
“Employers can reap significant benefits if they review their attraction, retention, transition and flexible working strategies with older women in mind.”
The research draws on three primary sources: a Think Tank of leading diversity practitioners, DCA survey findings, and industry and academic research on older employment.
From the research, DCA recommends seven key actions employers can take to attract, engage and retain older female workers, as well as to structure effective transitions into retirement.
The report can be downloaded at http://www.dca.org.au/dca-research.html