Major Parties Respond to Diversity Peak Body
Thursday, 30th June 2016 at 11:29 am
The Coalition and Labor parties have released their pre-election policy statements on workplace diversity and inclusion to Diversity Council Australia (DCA), which includes the gender pay gap, domestic violence leave, and workforce participation for marginalised groups.
DCA sent the two major parties a survey of 10 questions asking how they would support diversity if they were elected. Both responded and DCA released their statements publically on Thursday.
The survey covered women’s workforce participation, domestic violence, pay equity, people with disability, carers, Indigenous Australians, mature aged workers, cultural diversity and LGBTI+ employees.
DCA CEO, Lisa Annese said that government has an important role to play in supporting diversity and inclusion in Australian workplaces.
“As the independent Not for Profit diversity advisor to business, DCA leads debate on diversity in the public arena,” Annese said.
“In order to keep our members informed, we asked the major parties a series of questions from DCA’s own research about where they stand on diversity and inclusion in Australian workplaces.
“…We are releasing their responses to let our members know where the parties stand on diversity and inclusion.”
She told Pro Bono Australia News the organisation was pleased the parties took an interest in the issue.
“We’re glad we got them, that’s a start. We found it difficult to put a summary together responding to each of the diversity issues because there was so much information out there,” she said.
“So our first response was just being very happy that we received a response from the two major parties and that we had something to present to our members that might help them in making their [voting] decision.”
Annese said DCA had several priorities going into the election.
“We’d like to see obviously continued support for working parents, particularly working women, as there is a gender pay gap – we’d like to see continued work done in that area,” she said.
In regards to supporting working parents, Labor promised to deliver an increase to the Child Care Benefit of 15 per cent, a crackdown on “unjustified price increases” and to tackle waiting lists. Labor also said it would reverse budget cuts to paid parental leave.
The Coalition’s statement did not expressly mention policies to support working parents, but did acknowledge that supporting working mothers was important for closing the gender pay gap. The statement said increasing the number of women in leadership would help address the issue.
“We recognise there are a number of factors that contribute to the gender pay gap including gender bias, limited opportunity and a lack of flexible work arrangements…” the statement said.
“The Turnbull government is committed to diversity in leadership because it delivers stronger outcomes for individuals, communities and our economy. We recently announced a new gender diversity target of 50 per cent of women on Australian Government boards.”
Labor also committed to the same target.
Both parties expressed their support for targeting domestic violence.
Annese also said DCA wanted the parties to ensure engagement of groups at risk of being marginalised in the workforce.
“[We want the parties] to improve the full participation of members of the workplace that are traditionally not fully engaged, such as mature age workers or people with disability, those sorts of initiatives are really what we’re looking for to get a truly capable, diverse workforce,” she said.
Annese said the organisation would not state which party best supported diversity and inclusion or provide interpretation of the survey responses.
“The idea behind this was not for us to take a position on this one way or the other, but really just to present as much information as we could,” she said.