Look beyond working Mums to achieve gender equity

by Stephanie Zillman06 Mar 2013

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has found that while the majority of working women are not caring for children, most employers continue to rely on family-friendly policies to address gender equity in their workplace.

Specifically, the ABS study revealed:

  • Most workplaces focus on “family-friendly” policies to promote equity, yet these are very out-dated;
  • 64% of women aged 25-54 and working full-time have no children under 18;
  • Auditing pay and performance bonuses is a must.

The research, commissioned by gender equity workplace experts Optimiss Consulting, also focused on working women aged 25 to 54. Of that group:

  • 53% working part-time have no children under 12
  • 79% working full-time have no children under 12
  • 64% working full-time have no children under age 18

“The ABS data reveals what we have long suspected – a great many women in the Australian workforce either do not have children or do not have young children,” Kate O’Reilly, Director at Optimiss Consulting said. What’s more, Australia is struggling to achieve greater gender diversity from middle management right through to the most senior ranks.

O’Reilly affirmed that while it’s integral to have family-friendly policies for working parents in place, employers must look beyond these policies if gender equality is truly to be achieved. “Family-friendly policies do not address many of the issues holding women back such as pay equality, access to line management roles, unconscious bias, recruitment and promotion and access to training and mentoring,” she said. Doing so will lead organisations to ask themselves the really tough questions that bring about permanent cultural change.


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