What’s going on in Australian workplaces? The ‘only’ percentages say it all!

Only 13.2% of employers have a strategy for supporting caring responsibilities

Only 15% of fathers request flexibility

Only 18.1% of employers have pay equity objectives

Two important reports have been released this past fortnight – The Australian Work Life Index 2014[1] and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s Australia’s gender equality scorecard[2]. Both are reality checks to the current state of carer and gender equality issues in Australian workplaces – statistical realities that employers will find hard to ignore.

Both are critical because they give us a clear, confronting look at what working life in Australia is really like. And whether we want to hear it or not it’s time to take notice. If we don’t the results could be perilous for families, society and our economy in the years to come.

The reports provoke a number of important questions we need to answer:

  • What does the high part-time and casual employment rates of women (40% women compared to 14% men) mean for the long-term financial security and living standards of Australian women come retirement age?
  • Why aren’t fathers of young children asking for greater flexibility?
  • How can employees manage work-life balance when only 13.2% of employers have a strategy for family and caring responsibilities?

We have more to add to the list (and we’re sure you do to!). But first, lets take a look at the key points of both reports. To wrap up we have also included key resources employers can use, share and embrace to help turn these dismal statistics around.

Key Highlights – The 2014 Australian Work and Life Index (AWALI)

“The Australian Work and Life Index (AWALI) survey measures how work intersects with other life activities, as seen by a randomly selected representative group of 2,690 working Australians.” [3]

Highlights from the AWALI 2014 report titled The Persistent Challenge: Living, Working and Caring in Australia in 2014 include:

  • Australia is one of the most unequal countries with respect to men’s and women’s sharing of domestic and care work.
  • The greatest gender difference is evident for time pressure: women are more likely than men to feel chronically rushed and pressed for time, regardless of work hours.
  • Just over 1/3 of employees, men and women, prefer to work at least four hours fewer; this rises to 3/4 of those working long hours. Frequently working a combination of weekends and nights, or just evenings/nights, is associated with the highest work-life interference.
  • Most workers remain unaware of their Right to Request flexible work arrangements with only 20% actually making a request. Those most likely to make a request are mothers of pre-schoolers (40.6%). Only 15.2% of fathers of pre-schoolers made a request.

Eloquent snippets from the report…

 “The gender culture in Australia has proven particularly resilient, with contradictory norms that support women’s increased employment participation yet insist that mothers’ primary responsibilities are to their families.”

“Ensuring that less confident, less powerful workers, and more fathers and men, can also make effective use of this right [Right to Request flexibility] will require wider knowledge about the RTR and firmer legal protection around it – such as the right to contest a refusal that seems unreasonable.”

“Our findings indicate that unless the resources and supports available to women, and carers in general, are significantly improved, it is unlikely that their employment participation will significantly increase.”

Top 10 Highlights from the WGEA report – Australia’s Gender Equality Scorecard

The Australian Gender Equality Scorecard provides key results from the WGEA’s 2013-2014 reporting data.  It contains information for over 3.9 employees and 11,000 employers.

“This year, reporting to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency has yielded a world-leading dataset that paints the most comprehensive picture of gender equality in workplaces Australia has ever seen.”

Highlights from the report:

  • Only 13.2% of employers have a strategy to support employees with family or caring responsibilities.
  • Only 13.6% of employers have a strategy for flexible working
  • Only 7.1% of employers have a standalone overall gender equality strategy.
  • Women comprise only 26.1% of key management personnel (KMP) positions, and 17.3% of CEO positions.
    • Less than one in 10 (8.8%) organisations have set a target to lift the number of women around the boardroom table despite only 23.7% of directorships being held by women, and just 12.0% of chairs being women.
    • 24.7% the gender pay gap – full-time total remuneration
    • The highest base and total remuneration gender pay gaps are in Financial and Insurance Services (28.4% and 36.1% respectively).
    • Women comprise only 35.8% of full- time employees. They make up 75.3% of part-time employees and 57.2% of casual employees.
    • 48.9% of employers have a remuneration strategy or policy but only 18.1% of employers have pay equity objectives included as part of a remuneration strategy or policy.
    • 35.7% of employers offer paid parental leave in addition to government scheme for secondary carers of at least one week

Eloquent snippets from the report…

“Where an organisation had undertaken a gender remuneration gap analysis, the most common action taken was a review of individual remuneration outcomes nearly – 30% of employers took no action.”

“The data shows the leadership pipeline isn’t working: women struggle to get past the lowest levels of management, and they occupy only a quarter of positions in the top three levels of management.”

“That the gender pay gap widens from 19.9% to 24.7% when additional benefits such as bonuses are taken into account – highlighting that women aren’t getting equal access to elements of discretionary pay.”

Let’s take action now

Employers we ask you to share this information with your wider business community. We ask you to share it with your workplace culture influences, your employees and your internal policy makers.

If you are one of the employers who provided data to the WGEA you receive a confidential assessment of your performance compared to your peers which will help you focus gender equality efforts where they are most needed. See how other organisations performed here. Tap here to view data specific to your industry.

These reports confirmed to us how important our role is in leading the way for gender equality and parental rights in the workplace is. For those organisations counted in the positive performance stats we thank you for leading the way. Here’s to making your way the norm to turn these dismal statistics around.

Key resources for employers

Parents@Work Programs – provides end-to-end parental transition support programs + an online Portal for all parents and managers.

Career After Kids Forum 2015 Series – unique group learning sessions – online and face-to-face – for parents transitioning to and from leave, reconnecting back and balancing work and life needs.

The Gender strategy toolkit – provides a framework for achieving gender equality in workplaces, leveraging an organisation’s benchmark report.

The Guide to gender pay equity – outlines six steps to improving pay equity in workplaces, and is accompanied by a gender pay gap calculator.

The Gender target-setting toolkit – assists organisations to set targets.

 


[1] Skinner, N. Pocock, B. Centre for Work + Life University of South Australia, The Australian Work Life Index 2014, http://www.unisa.edu.au/Documents/EASS/CWL/Publications/AWALI_2014_national_report_final.pdf viewed 5.12.14

[2] WGEA, Australia’s Gender Equality Scorecard, viewed 5..12.14, https://www.wgea.gov.au/sites/default/files/2013-14_summary_report_website.pdf

[3] Skinner, N. Pocock, B. Centre for Work + Life University of South Australia, The Australian Work Life Index 2014, http://www.unisa.edu.au/Documents/EASS/CWL/Publications/AWALI_2014_national_report_final.pdf viewed 5.12.14

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