Walking the Talk on Workplace Gender Equality
12 August 2015 at 10:51 am
Most Australian employers value gender equality in the workplace but don’t know how to achieve positive outcomes for women, the Federal Government’s Workplace Gender and Equality Strategy Report found.
The report is in response to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s “worrying” findings that only 7 per cent of employers have a gender equality strategy and only 13 per cent of employers have a strategy for implementing policies on flexible work arrangements.
However, more than 50 per cent of organisations have a standalone gender equality policy and 45 per cent have policies on flexible work, and family and caring responsibilities, but are lacking in practical application.
“Strong implementation strategies are essential as they provide organisations with steps to reach their equality goals,” the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women, Senator Michaelia Cash, said.
“Promoting workplace gender equality has clear economic benefits, allowing organisations to attract and retain high performing staff.”
The report said without specific strategies, gender equality is in danger of being considered a “women’s issue”.
“Some organisations approach gender equality as simply creating a positive work environment for women. However this is an overly simplistic approach that can cause problems,” the report said.
“This can lead to the view that gender equality is a ‘women’s issue’, resulting in a lack of a sense of ownership for gender equality among men leading and working in the organisation.”
The importance of tailored strategies was highlighted by the Centre for Workplace Leadership, who reviewed the existing gender equality policies of 10 organisations for the report.
“While organisations often understand generic benefits from gender diversity and equality, they do not demonstrate a clear understanding of how these benefits apply to a more specific business case for gender equality within their organisation,” the report said.
“Leaders may be aware of the fact that gender equality and diversity can often have performance benefits. However, they often do not make the more immediate and specific connections between gender equality and improved labour market competitiveness or stakeholder engagement.”
Suggestions in the report include targets for the number of women and men interviewed for jobs, gender reporting and equity targets, more gender-equal social functions with less of an emphasis on alcohol and sport, and challenging the stigma around flexible work practices.
The Workplace Gender and Equality Strategy was funded by the Department of Employment and undertaken by the Centre for Workplace Leadership. A copy can be downloaded HERE.