Summary of Australian models and initiatives
This Appendix summarises some of the models and initiatives being used
to address gender segregation in Australian workplaces, as presented in the
evidence to the inquiry and in available information. It is not an exhaustive
Australian Public Service
As was the norm for employers at that time, when the Australian Public
Service (APS) was established in 1901 it was actively discriminatory against
women. It was not until 1949 that some discriminatory measures were removed.
Other significant obstacles to the employment of women were removed in
1966 when the ‘marriage bar’ was abolished. In 1973 jobs were no longer
classified as ‘men only’ and ‘women only’, and maternity leave and equal pay
for work of equal value were implemented.
From 1993 until around 1999, positive discrimination was in use in the
APS, in the form of targets in relation to women in the Senior Executive
Service (SES) and the classifications immediately below the SES, the Senior
Officer A/B (and equivalent) classifications.
Currently, women represent more than half of all APS employees but they have
not yet achieved parity in leadership positions.
Gender segregation is most evident in Commonwealth agencies responsible
for health care, social assistance and education, a trend mirrored in state
jurisdictions and the public sectors of other OECD nations.
The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) noted that, even in
female-dominated departments, women continue to be underrepresented in roles
that require tertiary studies in STEM subjects.
The APSC also noted that implicit gender bias still remains a barrier to women
being recruited into senior positions.
The Australian Public Service Commissioner has said that, while the APS
still has a gender pay gap, it is less pronounced than in the private sector.
In the APS this gap is fairly evenly distributed across the distribution of
The Commonwealth Public Sector Union (CPSU) has attributed the smaller gender
pay gap in the APS to the widespread use of enterprise agreements and transparent
The CPSU has noted that there are significant pay gaps between agencies
at the same level and is concerned that, without a change in approach to agency
bargaining, particularly around maintenance of family friendly conditions and
consultation rights, gender equality in the APS will be severely compromised.
The APSC released Balancing the Future: The Australian Public Service
Gender Equality Strategy 2016-19, which seeks to change culture 'through
leadership, flexibility and innovation'. The Strategy states that '[t]he APS
must set the pace for a contemporary Australian workforce':
The APS will not achieve gender equality until both women and
men are seen as capable and credible leaders; until both women and men can work
flexibly without risking their career progression; and until outdated
assumptions of 'women's work' and 'men's work' are identified and eradicated.
In 2015, the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) called for
all boards, with particular emphasis on ASX 200 companies, to meet a target of
30 per cent female directors by the end of 2018. It launched the Australian
chapter of the 30 per cent Club, a global movement of consultants, senior
directors and educators that aims to ensure that change occurs at all levels
and is seen as an important aspect of board effectiveness. To date, 81 ASX 200
chairs have become members, and the AICD believes that '[i]f momentum can be
created in the ASX 200 then it is more likely to filter through to other
In 2016, the AICD partnered with Chief Executive Women (CEW) to develop
the Boards for Balance program that promotes the role of the board in
influencing gender representation within organisations. Since 2010, the AICD
has also partnered with the Australian Government to offer over 330
scholarships to current and emerging female directors and executives to enable
to them to complete formal AICD governance education programs such as the
Company Directors Course.
The engineering and construction firm GHD was recognised with a
Workplace Gender Equality Agency's (WGEA's) Employer of Choice for Gender Equality
citation for setting a target of 40 per cent female workforce by 2020, and
increasing female leadership appointments in Australia over the last six
The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) notes that its members are
employing a range of strategies to address gender segregation, including
developing and implementing diversity and inclusion strategies with a focus on
gender, and building gender diversity key performance indicators into the
incentive programs for senior management.
The four major banks have set targets for women in management with
Westpac on track to achieve gender parity among its managers in 2017.
Construction companies are piloting a range of initiatives to support
gender diversity including flexibility initiatives, wellbeing initiatives and
gender targets. BHP Billiton recently set a target of 50 per cent female
employees by 2025 and is reassessing its recruitment and promotion practices to
Supporting and Linking Tradeswomen (SALT) is a not-for-profit network of
female tradeswomen that began with seven tradeswomen in Wollongong in 2009 and
now has representatives nationwide. Volunteer members have been touring western
NSW and hosting workshops in schools to introduce young women to potential
career pathways in trades. SALT President Ms Fi Shewring stated:
Jobs do not have a gender but there is an attitude in society
that certain jobs are only done by men and we wanted to change that...
TradeUP Australia is a not-for-profit organisation founded by electrician
Ms Sarah-Jayne Flatters to empower, inspire, inform and mentor women in
pursuing careers in traditional male-dominated trades.
The Women in IT Executive Mentoring program was founded by Dell
Australia in 2005 to encourage women to further their careers in information
technology and recently celebrated its tenth anniversary.
BPW Australia encourages its clubs to mark Equal Pay Day with events
that raise community awareness of the key challenges to gender equity. For
example, in September 2014 BPW Joondalup brought together politicians,
employers, educators, parents, students and the wider community to discuss
strategies to encourage girls into non-traditional occupations.
Steel Heels was founded by accountant Ms Sharon Warburton, a panel beater's
daughter from a tiny WA coastal town, who was the first member of her family to
attend university. Sharon has built a membership organisation for women
striving to reach leadership roles in traditionally male-dominated industries
such as construction and mining. By sharing success stories, toolkits, seminars
and networks, Steel Heels has created a pool of resources to assist women to
overcome barriers to reaching management levels in non-traditional industries.
PROGRAMMED has adopted a 'Male Champions of Change' approach to
achieving gender balance and addressing bias at all levels of the business,
including setting a target for women in leadership positions.
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