This year’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s Employer of Choice for Gender Equality citation holders have been announced, with many newcomers and a first for WGEA history.
The Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) is a government initiative which is charged with promoting and improving gender equality in Australian workplaces. WGEA commenced a citation in 2014 called Employer of Choice for Gender Equality (EOCGE) which recognises organisations that have an active commitment to achieving gender equality.
This year WGEA has recognised 26 new organisations for their best practice in promoting gender equality, bringing the number to a total of 141.
Parental leave for both males and females has been a trend among the 141 organisations.
For some new dads, taking parental leave can be daunting, as there is a stigma around taking time off work to care for children. Real estate investment company, Dexus has been awarded the EOCGE for a second year for their work on breaking down the stigma on men taking parental leave. They’ve accomplished this with ‘Dexus Dads’.
It’s essentially a organisation-sponsored network of working dads who support each other and share information and experiences. It helps enable men to engage with the organisation’s parental support program, which includes 12 weeks paid leave to the primary carer, super contributions for the entire leave period (up to 12 months), a digital ‘experience’ that keeps parents in contact with work and offers learning and development and a flexible working program.
One employee shared their experience of this program in a Parents At Work case study report. “While my kids and wife see more of me, I also look forward to coming into the office because I enjoy regularly collaborating face-to-face with my work colleagues.”
Another emerging trend of note according to the WGEA is the ‘robust analysis and correction of gender pay gaps.’
Perhaps no organisation has made bigger strides here than the AFL. In 2016, WGEA’s director Libby Lyons told The New Daily that the Australian Football League’s payment of women was ‘unfair’ and ‘unreasonable’. At the time the average pay of female athletes paid $5,000 per season, while male AFL athletes were paid an average of $3605 per game (on top of a base salary).
Almost three years later, the AFL has done a complete flip in regards to gender equality having been awarded the EOCGE – the first national sporting body to do so.
The AFL’s general manager of people, Sarah Fair told HRM that the AFL has been recognised for their enhanced parental leave program, which provides 6 months paid leave for primary carers, six weeks for secondary carers, and provides superannuation while primary carers are on unpaid leave.
On top of that, 40 per cent of their executive roles are filled by women.
“I joined the AFL around the same time as the chief executive officer Gillon McLachlan and we wanted to drive real culture change,” says Fair.
“We embed diversity and inclusion training within all leadership, we explore why gender equality is important, what’s in it for them and what it means to be a leader. Policy plays a big part in creating gender equality but culture is a change piece.”
There have been challenges along the way, as evident in the backlash surrounding pay equality.
“Our main challenge is the perception of the brand being a male dominated industry. Our focus over the past several years is to drive sustainable change to ensure that gender equality is taken seriously and the citation is a formal recognition of that,” says Fair.
A major motivation for the AFL’s gender equality push is that 47 per cent of their fanbase is female.
“We want to ensure we have the very best people working for our organisation and to achieve that you need to engage the whole market. Commercially we want to ensure that we remain relevant to the Australian population,” says Fair.
Alison Woolsey from Clayton Utz says her law firm is pushing for gender equality because they want to be representative of the industry.
“The benefits of gender diversity are very well known, so when you’re in a profession where well over 50 per cent of law school graduates are women, it stands to reason that your management ranks should reflect that community,” the director of diversity and inclusion says.
“We as a profession recognise our responsibility to society to promote gender diversity.”
Clayton Utz has incorporated a flexible workplace culture which Woolsey says has been the most effective driver behind gender diversity.
“We’re really big on emphasising flexibility. Most of our policies and programs benefit men as much as they benefit women – they’re gender neutral,” she says.
Woolsey noted that the biggest challenge to gender equality is unconscious bias. “Unconscious bias is something we need to overcome. And it takes time. We try to counter this challenge through things like setting targets for women in partnership, creating the role of a dedicated flexibility manager and unconscious bias training to develop more awareness of unconscious biases in all that we do.”
Here are some other emerging trends among the EOCGE companies:
- Programs to support women in leadership
- Return to work initiatives for women who have taken a career break
- Supporting men’s caring responsibilities
- Setting targets to achieve gender-equal graduate recruitment intakes
- Workplace flexibility
These are the 26 organisations that have been awarded the EOCGE for the first time:
- AbbVie Pty Ltd
- Australian Football League
- Charles Sturt University
- Cuscal Limited
- Daimler Truck and Bus Australia Pacific Pty Ltd
- Diageo Australia
- Frasers Property Australia
- Hall & Wilcox
- Hatch Pty Ltd
- Hilton Hotels of Australia Pty Ltd
- IRESS Limited
- L’Oreal Australia
- Lyndoch Living
- Merri Health
- Metcash Trading Limited
- MLC Life Insurance
- Norman Disney & Young
- TelstraSuper Pty Ltd
- The Boston Consulting Group
- Toyota Finance Australia Ltd
- Transdev Australasia
- Vanguard Investments Australia Ltd
- Victoria University
- Vodafone Hutchinson Australia Pty Limited
- WSP Australia Pty LTd
Creating gender equality in your workplace means driving change. AHRI’s short course ‘Leading Through Change’ provides you with the opportunity to focus on the practical tools, and processes that help you effectively manage change.