'Considerable barriers' against women in Australia's workplaces

Employer action is improving workplace gender equality, but there's still much work to be done

'Considerable barriers' against women in Australia's workplaces

Over the last five years, employer action is improving workplace gender equality but there is still much work to be done, according to data released by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA).

In particular, the 2017-18 WGEA data showed a steady increase in the number of women in management roles and strong growth in employer action in areas such as overall gender equality policies and strategies, pay equity and flexible work.

The gender pay gap has declined every year and this year has seen the biggest single-year drop (down 1.1pp) in the average full-time total remuneration gender pay gap.

However, the data confirms that we still have a long way to go. There are pay gaps favouring men in every industry and occupation and women earn, on average, just 79% of men’s full-time total remuneration salaries.

The five-year data trends also show virtually no movement in gender segregation across Australian industries and little improvement in either access to paid parental leave or the representation of women at CEO level or on boards.

WGEA’s Director, Libby Lyons, said the dataset shows that employer action has delivered real outcomes but that women still face considerable barriers in Australia’s workplaces.

“The five years of data collection demonstrates the value of measuring workplace gender equality,” said Lyons.

“We have clear evidence that employer action delivers real results and we should recognise the great work many employers have done in addressing issues such as pay equity.”

Lyons added that as employers have taken action, the gender pay gap has declined and gender equality outcomes for women and men across Australia have improved.

“Another positive result is that women have increased their presence in management over the past five years,” said Lyons.

“Women now comprise almost 40% of the managers in our dataset and almost a third of key management personnel, which is just under the CEO level, are now women.”

However, the data also highlights areas for improvement.

“Although the gender pay gap has narrowed every year, progress is too slow,” said Lyons.

“Access to parental leave has not improved, with the provision of paid primary carer’s leave actually going backwards.

Lyons added that the glass walls persist in industry segregation, which remains deeply entrenched in Australia.

“The glass ceiling is still a barrier for women at the CEO and board levels,” she said.

“The first five years of data shows where we are seeing positive change and where we need to make more effort.”

It’s particularly important that more employers to take action to accelerate the momentum for gender equality in Australian workplaces, added Lyons.

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