Leaders in workplace gender equality revealed

The Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) has awarded a record number of organisations its ‘Employer of Choice for Gender Equality’ (EOCGE) citation, this year.  

The 2017-18 EOCGE citation, which recognises employers who are actively commitd to achieving workplace gender equality in Australian, was received by 120 organisations across Australia.

According to WGEA Director Libby Lyons, the steady growth in the citation list indicated that the business benefits and competitive advantage gained by improving gender equality in Australian workplaces were becoming ever more widely recognised.

Noting that the 2017-18 citation holders are “setting setting the benchmark and the pace for other Australian workplaces to follow,” identified the following trends amongst this year’s recipients:

  • organisation-wide Entrenchment of flexible work
  • programs to support women into leadership
  • parental leave policies tailored to support use by both women and men
  • initiatives to attract women into male-dominated roles
  • Support for men’s caring responsibilities
  • robust analysis and correction of gender pay gaps.

Lyons said that while WGEA data shows “continuing momentum and progress towards gender equality in Australian workplaces”, it also shows there is an “accountability gap between having a policy or strategy in place and being held accountable for delivering results”.

She continued, “Leadership and accountability are essential if real progress is to be made in shifting the entrenched gender divisions in Australian workplaces. That is why the work of our EOCGE citation holders is so important. It is only through more employers showing this type of leadership and accountability that we will see the pace of real change increase.

The 2017-18 EOCGE citation holders range from small professional services firms to very large organisations including universities and banks, with male-dominated, female-dominated and mixed industries represented.

“It is encouraging to see some new citation holders this year in fields as diverse as engineering, manufacturing, insurance, IT and entertainment,” said Lyons said.

“Each industry and each business has its own gender equality challenges. We are confident that all our citation holders are driving change in their own organisations as well as playing a leadership role to promote gender equality across their industries and in the wider community.”

Asked how small businesses can seek to improve gender equality in their workplaces, Lyons told Dynamic Business: “Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) face distinctive challenges in managing and improving gender equality in their workplaces. We have created a special guide to assist small businesses in addressing pay equity. Our three-step guide encourages SMEs to get started by understanding the pay equity issues. They need to review their pay data and then put an action plan in place to deal with any discrepancies. It is important, too, that all information and plans are shared with executives, owners and governing bodies.

“There are also other meaningful cost-neutral actions to improve gender equality that can be implemented such as facilitating flexible work arrangements for all employees and ensuring equal access to shifts that attract penalty rates. Any business, irrespective of its size, will reap benefits from fair and transparent workplace policies that attract and retain the best people, regardless of  gender.”

One of the organisations featured on this year’s list is Allianz Australia, which has now received the EOCGE citation nine years in a row. The insurer was recognised for key programs including flexible work opportunities, targeted recruitment practices and professional development programs.

According to Allianz’s Managing Director Richard Feledy, these programs have resulted in “more women in management roles, increased talent retention rates, increased return to work rates following parental leave and gender pay gap reductions”.

He continued, “Diversity is about bringing together different ideas, experiences and business issues,” he said. “It is in this environment that we will see innovation flourish, engagement levels increase and a sharpened approach to attracting and retaining talent. The flow on effect will be that we will be able to provide better customer experience because we understand and represent the needs of a richly diverse Australia.”