Workplace Gender Equality Act
The Workplace Gender Equality Act was passed by Government in Australia to improve equality in the workplace. The new legislation will place greater focus and transparency on industry leaders and laggards when it comes to recruiting and promoting women. The legislation will also place pressure on law firms who assist industry in reporting, to ensure that they themselves are compliant and progressive.
An overview update of what the legislation means can be found on the Workplace Gender Equality Agency and the Diversity Council of Australia (DCA) websites.
Due to the new legislation, thankfully women will be able to access better data and information about company performance in terms of their commitment to women.
Under the Act, companies with 100 or more employees will report on gender equality outcomes and provide the Workplace Gender Equality Agency with insightful standardised data.
Mark Sant, head of Gadens’ employment and safety practice believes the legislation will place more pressure on firms to address gender diversity and make performance more transparent. “Your staff, shareholders and clients will be able to look at the data to see how the firm is performing,” he said.
Sally Macindoe, partner and head of diversity at Norton Rose, described the new law as a “terrific step forward” and urged law firms to work hard to retain people of both genders and from diverse backgrounds. “If firms don’t do this, they’re not only doing their own business a disservice, but they’re also not meeting their clients’ needs,” she said.
The Workplace Gender Equality Agency oversees the law. First reporting commenced in 2014, giving employers time to adapt to the new focus on data and workforce.
The changes increase Australia's productivity and improve business performance by empowering organisations to harness all of the nation's talent ... This data puts Australia at the international cutting edge for analysing progress on workplace gender equality. The Agency uses the data to set industry-specific benchmarks. Employers are able to compare their performance with others in their industry and we'll work with organisations to develop strategies to improve their performance ... These benchmarks also help organisations set voluntary targets on gender equality - something strongly encouraged. As with any business initiative, the best way to drive change is to set clear objectives and reward managers for achieving them ... The Act recognises that the days when women did all the caring and men were the sole breadwinners are long gone. It's time workplace practices caught up with the way we live today.
Diversity Council of Australia said "Broadening the focus of gender equality at work to include men has the potential to broker major change in this area. These reforms will assist Australian employers to deliver better outcomes for both women and men in their workplaces, while also generating productivity benefits in their own organisations".