Appendix 3

Summary of Australian models and initiatives

1.1        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 list.

Australian Public Service

1.2        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.

1.3        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.

1.4        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.[1]

1.5        Currently, women represent more than half of all APS employees but they have not yet achieved parity in leadership positions.

1.6        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.

1.7        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.[2] The APSC also noted that implicit gender bias still remains a barrier to women being recruited into senior positions.[3]

1.8        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.[4] In the APS this gap is fairly evenly distributed across the distribution of wages.[5] 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 pay levels.  

1.9        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.[6]

1.10      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.[7]

Industry-led initiatives

1.11      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 organisations'.[8]

1.12      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.[9]

1.13      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 months.[10]

1.14      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.[11]

1.15      The four major banks have set targets for women in management with Westpac on track to achieve gender parity among its managers in 2017.

1.16      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 achieve this.[12]

1.17      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...[13]

1.18      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.[14]

1.19      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.[15]

1.20      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.[16]

1.21      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.[17]

1.22      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.[18]

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