What are companies doing on the ground to boost gender diversity in their workplaces?

A recent study by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) has again highlighted the slow progress in gender equality and why it is a top ESG priority for Australian companies.

Although there are now more women in governance and executive roles than ever before, efforts to bridge the gender pay gap have stalled, with the national average sitting at 22.8%. WA has the largest pay gap (32.1%) for total renumeration, while Tasmania has the lowest (10.4%).

In addition to societal benefits, the advantages of a gender diverse workplace are many: the ability to tap into an available talent base, greater productivity and value creation and enhanced innovation, critical thinking and creativity.

Gender diversity is high on the list when companies consider their ESG material topics, especially those from sectors such as mining, construction, energy, IT, media and agriculture. At Futureproof, we expect to see greater accountability and transparency in this area with the recent legislative reform which will require WGEA to publish employer gender pay gaps for the private sector and Commonwealth public sector from early 2024. In addition to providing more comprehensive data for their sustainability reporting, it’s a positive step forward, helping employers map progress over time and giving employees a clearer insight into the diversity priorities of their workplace.

Gender diversity in action

Here’s a round-up of some of the practical measures our clients are taking to level up gender diversity in their workplace.

>> Establish baseline data.
In addition to WGEA, global sustainability frameworks such as SASB, GRI, and Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index all have metrics to guide gender diversity measurement. Male vs female workforce numbers by employees, management and Board, age, turnover, new hires, gender pay gap, parental leave, flexible work and anti-discrimination policies are all useful data points to start with. Futureproof can provide support and guidance if you have questions.

>> Leadership, accountability & planning.
It’s said that ‘pay gaps close when leaders see the numbers’. Developing a roadmap comprising targets, strategies and policies with collaboration from the Board and Executive helps drive transparency and accountability.

>> Proactive ideas for change.
Seek employee feedback from all levels of the organisation to understand and explore the barriers to attracting and retaining a diverse workforce. Several of our clients run company-wide surveys and focus groups to look at opportunities for change and have produced audits and action plans based on the results.

>> Improve gender pay gaps.
Pay gaps are an important marker for equality and help companies show improvement over time. Gather data to understand your company’s pay gap. Consider providing this information to WGEA and investigate certification through its Employer of Choice program which challenges organisations to continually improve their gender equality goals.

>> Supportive, flexible workplaces.
A growing number of companies have structures in place to support working families and employees with caring responsibilities which are essential to accelerate change.

>> Explore networks and partnerships.
Providing opportunities to share knowledge and lessons learned are great ways to build equality. Take a look at groups such as CEOs for Gender Equity which provides engagement and support for leaders who want to remove barriers and create positive change in their organisations.

>> Workforce training to target inequity.
More organisations are offering training to educate their workforce about inequities, inclusion and bias, including sexual harassment.