WGEA: Redesign management roles amid 'promotion cliff' among part-time staff

New report finds part-time employees lacking opportunities for career advancement

WGEA: Redesign management roles amid 'promotion cliff' among part-time staff

Employers across Australia are being urged to proactively redesign management roles as a new analysis from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) revealed a "promotion cliff" affecting part-time workers.

The latest WGEA analysis found that 21% of employees worked part-time during 2022-23, but only seven per cent of employees holding managerial roles were part-time.

The findings also uncovered that the share of managers working part-time drops with seniority, with only five per cent of part-time workers holding Key Management Personnel roles and three per cent being CEOs.

"There is effectively a 'promotion cliff' for part-time workers in Australia," WGEA chief executive officer Mary Wooldridge in a statement.

"Part-time workers who want to take up leadership roles in their workplace, or to make the change from full-time or casual work, face a sudden drop off in availability of management-level jobs that could otherwise contribute to advancing or sustaining their career."

'Redesign' management roles

According to Wooldridge, employers should not discount part-time workers if they want to attract staff amid historically low unemployment levels.

"Providing opportunities for women and for men to work part-time as they progress to management and leadership roles will have significant benefits for both employees and their workplaces," the WGEA CEO said.

"This is a call to action for all employers to actively develop and promote part-time management roles."

This call applies to all industries, according to Wooldridge, stressing that they need to "proactively redesign" management roles so they can be carried out by part-time employees.

Impact on women

Female-dominated industries, in particular, must ensure that there are ways women can move up to management positions as they are more likely to be hit by the promotion cliff, according to WGEA.

"Women are more likely to want or need to work part-time, and sometimes more than once in their careers. This new analysis shows there are severe constraints on them doing so at senior levels and helps explain why we see much lower proportions of women in leadership roles," Wooldridge said.

This situation leads to women's skills and talents being underutilised and leaving them in junior roles despite being capable for more, according to the CEO.

"To attract and retain talent from diverse genders and of all ages, employers need to offer flexible working arrangements, reconsider what it means to be a leader in the workplace, and implement part-time or job-sharing opportunities at managerial and executive level," she said.

The analysis stems from the upcoming 2023 Employer Census, which covers data from private employers with over a hundred employees. The full findings will be revealed at the end of November.

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