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Employers have sway when it comes to equality

Libby Lyons

The strongest progress towards workplace equality is occurring where employers have a direct influence on the outcome, according to new analysis that has provided a mixed report card for Australian businesses.

In its sixth year of data collection, the Australian government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) has shown incremental growth in employer action on overall gender equality policies and strategies, pay equity and flexible work.

For the agency’s director, Libby Lyons, the latest results, which cover over 4 million Australian employees, demonstrate the “importance of measuring gender equality outcomes in Australian workplaces”.

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“After six years, the agency’s data shows that when employers take action, it makes a difference,” she commented.

“Women’s promotions and appointments to managerial roles are rising every year,” she emphasised, noting too that more than seven in 10 employers now have policies or strategies to support gender equality or promote flexible working. She added that action on addressing pay equity continues to grow.

The WGEA noted that the stand-out result was the “substantial increase in employer action on family and domestic violence”.

There has been a 13.3 per cent jump in the number of employers with a policy or strategy on family and domestic violence and an 8.9 per cent increase in the number of employers offering paid domestic violence leave.

The data set captures all non-public sector employers with 100 or more staff.

More disappointingly, Ms Lyons did call out several key problem areas: “Despite an improvement in the provision of paid parental leave, over half of the employers in our data set do not offer it.

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“Women are still hitting the glass ceiling at the highest levels, the number of women CEOs has stalled and Australia’s boardroom tables remain dominated by men.

“This year, it is fair to say that overall improvement has been modest at best.

“Clearly, more work has to be done to sustain the momentum for change in our workplaces.”

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Employers have sway when it comes to equality
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